As the nights get longer and colder, it seems rather apt that the ice cool Ja Ja Ja club night returns after a short break. It’s been popular ever since its inception in 2009, bringing a plethora of hotly-tipped Nordic artists to these shores such as Niki And The Dove and When Saints Go Machine.
Its popularity has also now reached the stage where they can host a major two-day festival in November at the Roundhouse in Camden (which will be headlined by Mew and Múm). Before that though, now is a good time to remember its roots. The first line-up after its summer hiatus at the Lexington mixes dark and sparse electro with bright, vibrant, no-nonsense indie pop.
Iceland’s Samaris start the evening not so much with a bang but a dark rumble. As electronica goes it’s moody and very downtempo. Not exactly all-guns blazing, it is unlikely to get a raucous party going. But they do well to capture the attention of an already-packed Lexington. Songs like Góða tungl are atmospheric and the use of a clarinet adds a dimension to their sound. There’s something lacking though – maybe the use of one or two extra live players would help to beef up the performance.
If time was spent during Samaris’ set looking for the extra spark, Satellite Stories’ set was spent wondering why it was so enjoyable. The Finnish quartet’s set almost didn’t happen at all due to technical problems two songs in (forcing a brief interlude) but they reclaimed their momentum instantly. Two Door Cinema Club fans would love them; in fact, the tunes are so familiar that they might as well have been Two Door Cinema Club’s. Despite that, the energy of singer and guitarist Esa Mankinen is infectious and the final double-whammy of Sirens and Kids Aren’t Safe In The Metro, the latter of which includes a somewhat unexpected mention of Tesco, is enough to put smiles on faces.
It’s up to Norway’s Eye Emma Jedi from Oslo to finish it all off and they do so with confident gusto. Whilst the previous two bands settle on one path throughout their sets, this has a more natural flow and the range in dynamics is pleasing. They’re not too polished though; Alexander Pavelich delivers a raw and throaty vocal performance and at times they come across as a little rough around the edges, focusing on power rather than precision.
All in all, the evening is filled with promise. Despite everything running so late you were wondering whether or not every artist would be able to get a meaningful slot on the bill, it’s clear that Ja Ja Ja is still going strong.