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  • Andy Mockbee

Review: "Sweet Deal" - JO universe

Sometimes you hear about a person (or a movie, or a show, or a song) and you ask yourself whether they'll really live up to the hype. "Sweet Deal," the latest single by pop duo JO universe, explores the thrilling moment when the tension breaks into fulfilled desires. Musically, the song drives a thick tension through its first half: thumping percussion, rigid bass, and wispy background vocals. There's a payoff in the first chorus, but the real release remains elusive. There's the subtle introduction of more instruments and musical ideas, tantalizingly winding the path around its conclusion. My favorite passage comes at 1:12, when vocalist Johanne Marie Theill dips into a honeyed, spoken-word cadence over syrupy bass and bongos. The strings are present throughout the song's runtime, but they burst alive in the second half, bringing a distinct disco flavor. That's also when "Sweet Deal" gets its most bombastic, layering vocals and punching up the drums. A masterclass in the perfect payoff, JO universe wisely make the tension just as exquisite as the release.

"You won't believe what people say, but there is a chance they're wrong," Theill sings in the excellent chorus. It's that layer of mystification that keeps the subject of "Sweet Deal" just out of reach from listeners. Who is this enigmatic person that's got the Danish artist "unable to imagine consequences." While there's clearly a bit of hesitation on her side ("intuition says I should run,") the object of her pursuits is coyly drawing her into a game of cat and mouse. "Build up to satisfy me, at least that's how it seems," she remarks. The wait is part of the fun, though. Once they get some privacy, there's no question that it will have been worth it. In one of the more colorful lyrics, Theill suggests that she might "be your First Lady for sure." It's funny, but it's also a vivid expression of desire.

JO universe is the pop duo of singer/composer Johanne Marie Theill and co-writer/producer Nicolai Absalon. Together, the Denmark-based project combine vivid storytelling and genre fusion. They began releasing music last year with their debut single, "Elegant Debutant." "Sweet Deal" arrives as their fourth single, as well as the first single of 2023. Their website features detailed information on each song, including unique and stunning visuals. You can see the rich production in the credits of each song, as well as the collaborative nature of JO universe as a project (such as with the string quartet Who Killed Bambi).

Written By Andy Mockbee

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