Peter Bjorn and John’s latest album proves far too nostalgic

Courtesy halfwayhousemusic.com

If the words “Peter Bjorn and John” were uttered, what often comes to mind is the hit single “Young Folks” from their 2007 album, Writer’s Block. Maybe the title still doesn’t ring a bell, but if it came on the radio, one would immediately recognize it from the catchy whistling hook that has been featured on the likes of “Nip Tuck,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Gossip Girl,” “Parenthood,” “How I Met Your Mother,” as well as other major TV shows, commercials and even video games. After a major single such as this, it is immensely difficult to release material that is up to par with its predecessor – especially in the case of Swedish rock band, Peter Bjorn and John. After Writer’s Block, PB&J released another album in 2009 entitled “Living Thing,” containing a considerably darker sound, unlike their experimental-pop tunes from only a couple of years back.

On March 29, PB&J released their new album, “Gimme Some.” The band seems to have returned to their catchy pop tune songwriting, adding new elements of punk, but the songwriting lacks a certain spark that was clearly evident in their 2007 release. Instead of their signature indie synth-pop sound, in “Gimme Some,” PB&J favors electric guitar, drums, more personalized vocals and a cowbell (yes, seriously).

“Second Chance,” the single of “Gimme Some,” is an orchestra of hand claps, guitar strums, and yes, the notorious cowbell. PB&J’s distinguished attractiveness is evident in this track; however, the lyrics “You can’t can’t count on a second chance/ the second chance will never be found” are somewhat trite and boring in nature. In “Eyes,” the fourth track, the album seems to be moving forward. Reminiscent of the guitar licks from indie darlings Vampire Weekend, “Eyes” is the gem of the album, rich with triad harmonies, a driving beat, a call-and-response chorus and a playful tone. The album opens with “Tomorrow Has to Wait,” where lead singer Peter Morén sings, “It’s too late, but tomorrow has to wait/It’s the time of your life, so tomorrow has to wait/Tonight’s the night, and tomorrow is a million miles away,” keeping a youthful outlook on life and postponing the notion of growing up.

Although it’s easy for listeners to empathize with the palpable longing for youth, it may be time for Peter Bjorn and John to allow their sound to mature, and move forward in life, rather than lingering in the nostalgia of the past.
Carey Goldenberg may be contacted at cgoldenberg@themiamihurricane.com.