- Clean-Cut is, as you might expect from the title, a more direct album than anything we've heard from Juju & Jordash to date. That's not to say it consists of shorn-to-the-bone dance floor tools—though more precise than many of their past records, it never feels cold or calculated. What makes the album special is the way all this weird, gooey stuff gets heaped on top of the beats, the way synth patterns drift off into unexpected places, the way a chord drops in from nowhere and immediately changes the whole feel of a track.
The album opens with the beautifully realised title cut, whose strings, pads and pan-pipe synth make it lighter than much of what follows. This one sits in the mind as the record spins: without "Clean-Cut," a track like the relatively hard-hitting "Wheeze Please" might not reveal its soft inner core quite so readily.
Semi-ambient tracks scattered throughout help keep the pace from picking up too much. "Maharaja Mark" is a subtly teeming world of aimless synths; the title of "Swamp Things" gives you a good idea of what to expect from that track. Slow to the point of stasis, these are dollops of sound to wade through.
Part of what makes Clean-Cut work so well is the control Juju & Jordash exert over their own creations. As rich with detail as they are, these are not heavily layered tracks, nor are they open-ended jams. The elements in each have been whittled down to the necessities, often little more than a beat and a single, wandering lead line. Take "Eventide," a track that seems to have a lot going on while at the same time barely being there at all. It's masterfully handled, exacting the most dynamic expression out of the smallest gestures and flourishes.
On one hand, it feels like Juju & Jordash are utterly comfortable working away behind their gear, and the results bear that out: even with all their left turns, these songs end up sounding smooth. That said, it also feels like they've pushed themselves in a way they haven't before, cutting away the chaff (what little there ever was) in search of a more refined sound. On Clean-Cut, Juju & Jordash sound like artists in their element. It's their best record yet.
04. Swamp Things
05. Deadwood City
06. Maharaja Mark
07. Wheeze Please