Peter Bjorn and John
Gimme Some is perhaps one of the sunniest records of the year, but Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John took a strange, twisty road to get here. This, the band’s sixth LP, is a far cry from the weird hollowness and intimately narrative lyrics found on their 2006 U.S. breakthrough Writer’s Block. That set of songs still resonates in XM Radio annals and every comfy coffee shop – especially the whistling, ubiquitous single “Young Folks” featuring The Concretes’ Victoria Bergsman. The band’s intervening two albums (2008’s Seaside Rock and 2009’s Living Thing) reveal something of its stylistic journey over the past five years as Peter Morén, BjörnYttling and John Eriksson traversed various inroads of pop experimentalism. With Gimme Some, however, it’s obvious they’ve emerged in the bright light after their creative tunnel.
As ever relying on introspective lyrics (“No one gets me down like me,” for example), sonically, the record references pure pop predecessors, peppered with an occasional hint of other sparse eccentricity. Opener “Tomorrow Has To Wait” relentlessly pounds in the album’s pace, barreling, guitar-driven and repetitive. It’s both aggressive and buoyant, smiling through gritted teeth.
Likewise, single “Dig A Little Deeper” bounces and bops with it’s “oh!” backup singing and cheerleading, somewhat self-referencing lyrics. “All art has been contemporary,” Morén intones encouragingly. The record keeps up its breakneck tempo through the thundering “Breake Breaker” and the frantic “Black Book,” revealing perhaps some punk influence, though certainly one filtered through the band’s pop reverence.
The record turns darker at “Down Like Me,” and when “I Know You Don’t Love Me” wraps up the album with its Death-Cab-reminiscent guitar and echoing vocals, it feels like a natural conclusion to this almost emotionally exhausting, deceptively dark optimism.
Peter Bjorn and John with Gimme Some have aired their various talents beyond the stylistic expectations of their weathered fans. It’s an odd musical world, and they seem to want a little piece of all of it.
Peter, Bjorn and John play Masquerade on April 28.