For a while in the mid-2000s, there were a few bands refining a distinct indie rock tone—South with Adventures in the Underground Journey to the Stars, the Boxer Rebellion with Exits, Youth Group with Casino Twilight Dogs and, later, The Night is Ours, even Doves could be lumped in here with The Last Broadcast. These bands offered an alternative to the frenetic post-punk of Bloc Party or the cold distance of Interpol, embracing a warmer, more layered, orchestral approach, in many ways extending the sound James crafted in the '90s. Sadly, the movement, while producing some phenomenal records (most of which are listed above, with the exception of South's With the Tides), lost steam as the decade came to a close, overtaken by a new generation of upstarts with their own ideas and musical philosophies.
With Já, Bolywool piece together a tapestry with a fair few threads of that lost sound. The first single, "Dreams of Nova Scotia," wouldn't have felt amiss on Adventures in the Underground Journey to the Stars, "Drop of Comfort" echoes the more subdued compositions of Exits-era Boxer Rebellion, and the opening and closing tracks, "Ode to Autumn" and "Flyja (I'd Die for You)," retain some of the traits of Doves at the peak of their talents, especially their ability to craft a tracklist. As good company as Bolywool would have been to their mostly British colleagues back in 2006, the Swedish musicians are very much their own beast, and while they exist in a similar aural landscape, the band carves out its own territory on Já.
As much as I adore the cool theatricality of Wild Beasts and the smarmy "jizz jazz" (his own terminology) of Mac Demarco, while listening to a track like "Drop of Comfort" or "Summer Rain" a younger, more romantic music fan emerges and is easily lost in the echoing waves of reverb. In this way, Já works as both a nostalgic moment from the recent past and a celebration of the possibilities of the present. The reason I know I am quite smitten with Bolywool is that when Já comes to an end, I don't go fumbling for a Youth Group or a South record, I simply hit "play" again.
The opening track subtly betrays one of the finer qualities of Já, that it exists as a wonderfully autumnal document, flourishing in the liminal period between last light and creeping darkness, capturing those introspective moments when summer's warmth begins to wane and a chill slips into the evening air. And like early autumn, there is a sense of excitement with Já, a sense of wonder as the fecundity of summer enters into a slow, beautiful death, with leaves shifting from green to yellow, orange, and red, and finally falling from their branches. As certain summer nights foreshadow these moments, I don't expect Já to lose any of its vitality as the days grow warmer and longer; if anything, an album like Já gives us a few moments to reflect on our summer days, preventing them from becoming one long, sun-bleached blur.