Monday, February 12, 2007

Reviews:: Peter, Bjorn & John Writer's Block

I totally missed the boat on Peter, Bjorn and John. It wasn’t the name, the hype or any reason (that I've been known to use when dismissing a band) quite that superficial. I just didn’t really think that Young Folks was all that amazing as a song. It was catchy 60’s pop, but assuming it would all fall into this type of sugary snack, I never went back. I even got a copy of the disc from an officemate, and other than Amsterdam, I didn’t pay it much mind.

Now, a few months later – I can’t get enough of the disc. I still don’t really like Young Folks (although it has grown on me somewhat), but the rest of the LP is a pleasant surprise. I expected a whole album of 60’s dream pop, but instead the trio uses a great mix of heavy bass, vintage guitar sounds, shoe-gaze, Brit-pop, subtle electronics and pop structure.

Opening with the driving drums and whirling guitars of Objects of My Affections, the band shows it isn’t reliant on frantic bongos and a whistled line. Simple guitar flourishes during the verses complete the rapid fire vocals and marching band drums. When the chorus fills out into a heavy layer of guitars, you are already fully engaged in the song, and as a result the record.

The core of the record is by far my favorite section. The maraca/drum machine beat of Amsterdam is a nice match for the sing/spoke lyrics of the song about the lovely city and it fades nicely into the fuzzy, warm guitars, washed out static and smoky vocals of Start to Melt. The band ventures back into the electronics and 80’s influenced new wave on Up Against a Wall, delivering such a catchy back beat that I didn’t get tired despite the 7 minutes of length.

It becomes quite obvious, that despite the record’s title, the band knows their strengths and is decidedly comfortable playing to them. Despite their Swedish roots, this trio sounds like they should be the next big thing from Britain. Even the vocals drift into the Lennon realm at times. This is evident on the Brit-pop bounce of Let’s Call it Off, complete with handclaps, chimes and a bouncy, elastic band bass line topped off with a punchy chorus that drives into your cerebellum. The album closer – Poor Cow - is another touch of brilliance. It’s a simple acoustic track, rich in fret squeaks and slowly strummed chords.

The band drifts away from their comfort zone a few times, and sadly, the result is not as successful. I’m not buying into the post punk/new wave styles of The Chills, but with a band as tight as PB & J, it would have been just as easy to settle into a simple ten track record using the same formula. The record took a while to warm to, but sometimes those are the ones you really enjoy.

UPDATE - PBJ will be in Vancouver.
05-12 Vancouver, British Columbia - Commodore

MP3:: Let's Call it Off (Girl Talk remix)
MP3:: Start to Melt

Posted at 4:44 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 3:01 AM, Blogger sandpaperhearts did sayeth:

i am really enjoying this album as well...if you havent seen the video for "Young Folks", you should definately check it out - its a really cool video! You can watch it here---->


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