Content warning: this post includes mention of suicide.
jooj two is a beautiful and sad album from music veterans and one-time romantic life-partners Sook-Yin Lee and Adam Litovitz. Beautiful because it’s full of sonically massive pop music. Sad, because in 2019, Adam Litovitz died by suicide before he was able to hear the finished record.
Lee and Litovitz’s respective careers intertwined throughout their relationship. Lee is a CBC broadcaster, she’s fronted various music groups, and worked as a Much Music video jockey. Litovitz composed the score for several independent Candian films. In 2015, Lee and Litovitz released their artistic pop album, jooj, a record that moves gracefully between being pretty, cinematic, and sad. Four years later, while no longer together romantically, the pair started work on jooj two, a project Lee was completing independently with Litovitz’s blessing when he died.
Despite this tragic story, the first single from jooj two, “Run Away With Her,” has a more upbeat tone than anything off jooj. Lee’s vocals glide over the shimmering instrumentals — the song feels like a windows-down drive on a cool summer evening. Even separated from the context of Lee’s life, “Run Away With Her” is an excellent pop song that sets high expectations for jooj two,and Lee delivers. Jooj two sounds huge. From the haunting opener “Introductory escape,” reminiscent of late Bowie, to the gorgeous and experiential closer “Adam,” this album sounds heavy, dark, and sparkly all at once.
Aside from “Run Away With Her” there are a number of stand-out songs from this project. “Rumble Like a Stranger” is a percussive and spacey experiment in harmony. Multiple vocal tracks blend together over deep instrumentals. “Ship it Out” uses a danceable and catchy hook to draw you into the house-influenced groove of the song. “Narcolept Falling” is also wicked, with a brutal and beautiful beat that stings the heart. “Lake Girls” is another glowing example of Lee’s creativity. With sweet guitar picking and big slow-moving bass, the song has some unexpected folk-rock influence. There is a rewardingly brave jaw harp sample and some squeaky flute which gives “Lake Girls” a mild 60’s flare. Like the rest of the album, it sounds delightfully witchy.
Then there’s the closing song “Adam,” another ambitious experiment in harmony. Its fascinating and captivating soundscape expresses many emotions, and more than sadness or mourning the emotion coming through the most is love. Love shines through the whole album. The fact that, after such a difficult loss, Lee not only finished jooj two but was willing to take the project on at all is a testament to the muse of her and Litovitz’s unique relationship. Their music has been described as a creative language, and given the beauty of this new record, the description is apt. Lee is talking, too — about her love and celebrating the joys of their relationship through music.