Album Review: Peter Bjorn and John – “Gimme Some” – (StarTime)

Album Reviews, Features, Music — By on April 25, 2011 7:27 pm

Peter Bjorn and John have made their sixth addition to a canon that defines one of the best contemporary indie pop acts of the new century. In that canon, the Swedish trio have proven themselves to have an incredible talent for writing ridiculously catchy pop songs that have been sampled and remixed by such hip hop artists as Drake, Girl Talk, Kanye West, Wale and GZA. Their career has fitted the boys for a very large pair of Chuck Taylorʼs, and as a fan, it is a nerve-wracking experience judging their ability to fill them.

Gimmie Some is a departure from the largely electronic, experimental sound that became the theme of 2009ʻs Living Thing. On first glance, one can certainly identify the traditional Peter Bjorn and John writing style that was present on their well-received 2006 album Writerʼs Block, although it takes a few listens for the album to build a reputation that is its own. The songs are short, catchy and fairly stripped down. The track order does not make any bold statements or drive any great theme and the songs are presented very cleanly. Because of this, it was difficult to define the purpose of this album — then it hit me. This album was not meant to stand out. It stands as another well-written album by a very talented band and is on par with anything else they have produced. If this is where Peter Bjorn and John plateau, then there is no cause for alarm. If their recordings stay “average” by these standards, then they will still be far more entertaining than the best work of several contemporary music acts.

Peter, Bjorn and John – Second Chance from Peter Bjorn and John on Vimeo.

The third track, “Second Chance”, mimics the 2006 single “Young Folks,” although the whistling on “Young Folks” that latches onto your eardrums like a parasite, is replaced by a rhythm-setting cowbell. This could easily be considered the first single off the album, although their sound is still too complex for mainstream radio.

Following the single are an array of tracks about heartbreak, broken hearts, and shattered romance. One must wonder if these boys get dumped a few times a day, because they certainly have not exhausted the subject matter. From this pain comes very lighthearted expressions that pull inspiration from the punk rock grunge of the Sex Pistols, the careless surf rock of the Beach Boys, and the innocent blues of the early Beatles.

From top to bottom this was a really well put together record. It has everything you would want in a good indie album. Unfortunately, it lacks the surprise factor that you get when you discover something new and refreshing, although often when a band takes a risk to create something new and refreshing it tends to fall flat. It is comforting that this album does not take such risks, because I really would have hated it if the album worked to tarnish their reputation. Do not expect to be blown away with Gimmie Some, just expect a great time with your three favorite Swedes.

The band is currently headlining a US tour in support the album. Dates and venues are available through the PB&J website.

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