Monday, January 29th, 2018

Jax Jones ft. Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Dum-dum, da-da-da-da…


Julian Baldsing: “You Don’t Know Me” had Fruit Loops on its cover. “Instruction” had Sriracha sauce. “Breathe” has Tic Tacs. Tic Tacs. Nobody craves Tic Tacs. Tic Tacs are functional. You might pop one in your mouth if they’re around, but I find it hard to believe there’d be any type of outcry if they disappeared off the face of this earth. “Breathe” is a perfectly usable banger, but unlike its predecessors — which came equipped with snappy hooks and colourful personalities — there’s nothing to elevate it to being essential. “You Don’t Know Me” and “Instruction” were like jolts to your senses; “Breathe” is what you dance to when you’re too hammered to really register anything.

Micha Cavaseno: Is Jax Jones ever going to reveal any qualities worth keeping him around? Besides looking like the UK’s equivalent to DJ Akademiks in “most slappable human being” despite just being kind of a clod and not a psychotic weasel. Digressions aside, Jones has spent a comfy sort of year enjoying chart supremacy in pop despite lacking any sort of identifiable stylistic traits, and remains the most generic producer in dance music who makes you long for the days of just a few years ago where pop-house and EDM producers at least tried to go for some sort of unique gimmick of the week to boost them into the top 40. Every Jax Jones song is the most formulaic soundalike tech house that relies solely on the talents of whichever vocalists he employs, and that Ina Wroldsen’s approach on “Breathe” is at least moderately catchy does him the world of favors, because on his own, you’re left to wonder why in the world someone with so little to offer has reaped so many rewards.

Katherine St Asaph: One of the best pieces to come out of nu-MTV News was Meaghan Garvey on the particular sadness of Eurodance: “All of [these songs] were desperately preoccupied with something just out of reach, and presented with an irrational optimism that twisted the knife even deeper.” By the mid-’00s, that subtext was text: songs like Dirty Vegas’s “Days Go By,” Sonique’s “It Feels So Good,” and iio’s “Rapture” are minor-key, obsessive broods, music for car commercials if those commercials didn’t sell freedom but loneliness. “Breathe” emulates the melody, vocoder, and da-da-da of “Rapture,” along with bits of “Stereo Love,” “5AM,” “Needed Me,” and Wroldsen’s own “How Deep Is Your Love”; of course it’s great. Songs like these exist so listeners can impart nonsense like “dum-dum-da-da-da-dum” with their own longing; in a songs-about-songs trick I actually haven’t seen before, the lyrics make that process explicit.

Will Adams: “I don’t know how many da-da-dums I can take” is a perfect lyric, really, especially for a song that can’t help but using that wordless hook to impart the weariness its narrator is feeling. The music of “Breathe” follows suit: sleek house that’s pointed to the dancefloor, at once hoping for a spark to arise out of a repeated hookup and seething at the self for falling for it again.

Iain Mew: Ina Wroldsen doing agonised questioning over chunky pop house already worked once, so another go with someone who credits her is an appealing prospect. “Breathe” comes with a twist in its chorus folding into the text of own verses. “I don’t know how many duh-duh-dums I can take” is the kind of songception more common in much more obviously songwriterly records. If Jax Jones showed the invention to accompany it with something that went beyond sleek and competent, the effect might have been more brilliant than endearingly gawky.

Crystal Leww: Yes, I already know I wrote about this when she was on “Places,” but I will never forgive Calvin Harris for failing to give Ina Wroldsen a featuring credit and letting freaking Gigi Hadid play her in the video. She flexes her house vocalist muscle again here on “Breathe,” with Jax Jones. He makes this sound like a jumprope for her to perform vocal footwork all over. This is an absolute slapper, and Wroldsen (again!) is that dramatic bitch who makes it sound like a destructive relationship is the end of the world. 

Alfred Soto: Jones has found a fly vocalist in Ina Wroldsen, and the beats are almost up to her. I can’t predict where the hook will land. Let’s introduce Ina to Katy B and Geeneus. 

Ryo Miyauchi: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen avoid the more obvious route of relegating the humming hook to an actual beat drop for “Breathe.” Actual words escape from pop choruses with every passing year, so it’s a curious little development in a way. It also helps that the hums are a quirky feature for memorability’s sake. But this is actually an instance where they should’ve went with the obvious. Music as metaphor gets embedded within the narrative, and Jax Jones could’ve further blurred the lines with the actual beat bleeding into the romance.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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3 Responses to “Jax Jones ft. Ina Wroldsen – Breathe”

  1. ooh the “Rapture” comparison is so good and makes me like this even more

  2. Thank you for linking to that Meaghan Garvey MTV piece, I thought I was alone in my long nights spent listening to “L’amour Toujours” as a tween, thinking that music could get no better. Really great writing.

    As far as source inspiration for songs go, you could do much worse than “Rapture”. Ina Wroldsen sounds great, but the production doesn’t do much as it plods along without really engaging with the lyrics or source inspiration. I guess I really just want any reason for the burbling bass from “Rapture” to come back, those drums and twinkle sounds too!

  3. Jax Jones may be anonymous but I think it’s pretty easy at this point to recognize a song Ina Wroldsen has written, even without her singing it. She’s found a way with melody that seems to net her regular hits in various constellations.