La La Lars is the Swedish quintet led by drummer-composer-producer Lars Skoglund, known from Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra and Oddjob, the indie band Laakso and as the musical director of pop singer-songwriter Lykke Li. «II», obviously, the sophomore album of self-titled debut album of La La Lars, featuring the same A-team of the forward-thinking Swedish jazz – trumpeter Goran Kajfeš, reeds player Jonas Kullhammar (who also plays in the Subtropic Arkestra), keyboards player Carl Bagge and bass player Johan Berthling (another member of the Subtropic Arkestra).
«II» is a natural continuation of the atmosphere of the debut album, and on its vinyl version the sides are even labelled as C and D. Skoglund employs his extensive experience as a producer of popular acts to compose catchy and uplifting avant-pop-jazz themes, rich with detail and with playful story-lines. The front-line of Kajfeš and Kullhammar offers a lush, soulful solos; Bagge wraps the themes with sweet, intoxicating aroma, sometimes nostalgic and exostic, often cleverly swinging yet somehow futuristic with his piano and vintage electronic keyboards,; Skoglund, with the solid support of Berthling, steers the breezy commotion with a sense of playfulness and elegance.
All the eight, short pieces, have suggestive, ironic titles that capture the leisured atmosphere of La La Lars. The ballads «Det Skymmer» and «Det Brinneris» are the most beautiful here, with impressive solos of Kajfeš, Kullhammar and Bagge who clearly enjoy the chance to play these warm, emotional melodies. The cinematic «Tillbaks Till Gothborgen» corresponds with «Gothborgen (Flykten från Gothborgen)» from the debut album and sounds as if Skoglund and La La Lars found their peace with this important Swedish city.
Goran Kajfeš (tp), Jonas Kullhammar (ts, fl, bassoon), Carl Bagge (p, Philicorda, Crumar Roadrunner, monophonic synth, polyphonic synth), Johan Berthling (b), Lars Skoglund (dr, cymbals, add.keys).