I have been a big fan of J. Rabbit since they released Looking Around two years ago. “Happy Things” is still one of my go-to feel good songs, and I am always excited when they release a new video. So, I was really surprised when I had not heard about their new album Stop & Go until now. With every album, J. Rabbit come out stronger than before, and Stop & Go is no exception.
J. Rabbit have built a strong following off of their videos (“cute” would be an understatement), but they would not be nearly as interesting as they are if the music could not stand up on its own. When Jeong Hye Seon and Jeong Daun released their first album It’s Spring, the focus was primarily on the videos. Many of the recordings were the same as those on their YouTube videos, and their music had charm and a certain appeal but had not quite coalesced yet.
Looking Around, however, was a much more mature and cohesive expression of who they are. They have continued this trend with Stop & Go< and released what I feel is their best album yet. Their progression actually reminds me a lot of the band She & Him whose three releases have had a very similar feel as a gimmick that revealed itself to be something real and serious.
“좋은일이 있을거야” sets the mood, opening the album with a bouncy piano rhythm and finger snaps. This song will go down as a classic for the band, shining in every way that the band can do best. It is essentially just piano and vocals, but Jeong Daun has a voice that can give substance to even the most minimalist piece. She’s honest and bright when she sings, “hi, hi, beautiful sunshine!”
I like the way they often capture the feeling of a Disney theme in their music thanks to Jeong Daun’s soaring vocals and Jeong Hye Seon’s piano and guitar melodies. My personal highlight is “Round & Round,” hanging out somewhere along the line between a ballad and a pop song. The moment when the driving guitar melody dissipates into a warm cocoon of hushed “oohs” and “aahs” is the definition of magical.
What stands out to me on Stop & Go is how much better produced the songs are. They no longer sound like they were recorded in the coffee shop, but that coffee shop feel and charm is still there in the duo’s being. J. Rabbit have enough passion to get away with better production without sacrificing the intimacy their music has always contained at its core. The girls have not in the slightest betrayed their roots; they’ve only strengthened what was already there.
J. Rabbit are a breath of fresh air, boldly chipper and always there to bring a smile to your face. At the end of the day, these are two girls having fun and making good tunes.