Peter Bjorn and John
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Peter Bjorn and John have been together since 1999, and they’re still going strong. On fifth LP Gimme Some, the Swedish trio has stripped down their sound, and their brand of indie rock has never sounded fresher.
These days, “minimalist” tends to refer to lo-fi garage rock. However, Peter Bjorn and John have truly reduced their sound down to its vital parts. Album highlight “Eyes” exemplifies this, carried by a strong bassline and crisp percussion. On “Second Chance,” the guitars sound crunchier than what we’re used to hearing from the Stockholm group. In his interview with American Songwriter, bassist/keyboardist Björn Yttling has expressed the band’s affinity for garage rock, and it shows. Through their Scandinavian pop filter, the results are much cleaner-sounding, but no less refreshing. The band is able to dispatch short, fast-paced cuts with all the panache of younger artists–and much more discipline. At well under two minutes, “Black Book” fully delivers, fuzzed-out but tightly controlled. The rollercoaster “Breaker Breaker,” penned by drummer John Eriksson, segues into “May Seem Macabre,” a pure, smooth breather.
Opening track “Tomorrow Has To Wait” is somber yet optimistic, with the lines “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.” It’s the same kind of in-the-moment tone that led to Peter Bjorn and John’s breakout on the 2006 single “Young Folks,” but the band now has an older, wiser perspective. It’s something that shines throughout the album, such as when frontman Peter Morén gets introspective on “Down Like Me.”
While Peter Bjorn and John shot to popularity with a song about making a connection, the tracks on Gimme Some are more likely to be studies of divisions, such as “Second Chance.” Album closer “I Know You Don’t Love Me” features distorted vocals and a series of sharp build-ups.
Overall, Gimme Some displays an emotional range befitting the band’s maturity, backed with masterful musicianship. While the newest, youngest next big thing is always being hyped, Peter Bjorn and John have only grown better with age.