Initially, I expected that a two-man band originating from Stockholm would not fail to provide a unique and interesting sound that differed from normal alternative and indie rock bands. Unfortunately, with the release of Johnossi’s latest album, “Transitions,” my expectations were not met. Instead, the rock duo from Sweden provides a somewhat bland release that fails to hit any mark of innovation.
Johnossi consists of only two members: John Engelbert and Oskar Bonde. With a two-man group, other great rock duos immediately come to mind, such as the Black Keys and the White Stripes — both unique and talented bands that have developed their own styles of rock. Johnossi has experienced similar success in their prior singles, including “Man Must Dance” and “Execution Song,” and with their fourth album it was my hope that Johnossi would continue to build upon this success.
Although the album doesn’t do anything horribly wrong, it certainly doesn’t do anything different that would make it stand out from any other rock or indie album. “Transitions” is filled with repetitive guitar riffs that fail to provide solid hooks to make listeners want to continue listening. Repetition is not always a bad thing; however, with many of the tracks, the lead guitar chords and riffs fail to catch the listener’s ear in the first place, let alone multiple times throughout the song.
This trait is perfectly displayed in the song “E.M.” which contains the same guitar chords, strummed at a quick and choppy pace throughout the entire song with little else in between, creating a sound that verges on irritating. This type of occurrence happens throughout multiple tracks and leaves an unpleasant impression upon the listener. Not only are a majority of the songs redundant, “Transitions” comes close to an hour long, with many of the tracks clocking in around four to five minutes. The length of the album is much longer than average, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with having an album that runs longer than normal, because “Transitions” fails to consistently provide fresh and interesting music, everything sounds like dragged-out variations of the same song. This is definitely a major burden on the album, which even had me tempted to stop listening a few times.
While “Transitions” has serious drawbacks, there is no doubt that Engelbert and Bonde have a fair amount of talent to offer. Despite the repetition and lack of innovation throughout most of the album, there are a few tracks that do provide listeners with instrumentation that is easy to latch on to. The track “Gone Forever” is an upbeat song with a catchy chorus and a unique keyboard hook that is used sparingly throughout the song. Additionally, both tracks “What’s The Point” and “Everywhere (With You Man)” manage to provide solid guitar riffs, along with vocal harmonization between the two members that manage to keep listeners engaged. Coupled with Engelbert’s strong vocals, these tracks give the album a bit of saving grace that prevents it from becoming a total failure.
It is clear to see that the album definitely had the potential to become something unique. The musical talent is there, but “Transitions” lacks any amount of creativity and innovation that is vital to making an album a standout.
Rating: 3 stars