Monday 23 April 2018

Music: Gimme Some by Peter Bjorn and John ***

(Cooking Vinyl)

Peter Bjorn and John are, technically, one-hit wonders. Nothing else in their catalogue enjoyed the word-of-mouth success of Young Folks, the freewheelin' whistling delight that soundtracked summer 2006.

Yet, the Swedes are not short of artfully composed songs that appeal on numerous levels. What initially sounds like throwaway pop usually has a depth and complexity that proves the Stockholm-based trio to be masters of songcraft.

Another band might have tried to capitalise on the success of Young Folks with prosaic, straight-up, radio-friendly pop, but P B and J took a very different approach -- follow-up albums Seaside Rock and Living Thing were wilfully experimental and while both have their merits, there's way too much filler present.

And something else has happened too. Since Young Folks, Bjorn (Yttling) has become one of the most in-demand producers, helming albums from such disparate acts as compatriot Lykke Li and Primal Scream.

Surprisingly, he has taken a back-seat on this, the sixth Peter Bjorn and John album -- for the first time, an outside producer has been drafted in in the hope that the band will be taken out of their comfort zones somewhat. Don't expect brave new departures -- instead, this is the sound of a band rediscovering an early fondness for punk shot through with pop sensibilities. By and large, the self-indulgence of recent albums -- typified by 2009 single Lay it Down and its repeated refrain, "Shut the f*** up boy/ You're starting to piss me off" -- has been eschewed.

Using a limited palate of instruments -- mainly centred on the classic guitar/bass/ drums set-up -- these short, spiky songs capture much of the band's live prowess. There's a slice of jangle-pop on the delightful (Don't Let Them) Cool Off and frenetic fun on Breaker Breaker, while May Seem Macabre is laced with dark humour.

Granted, there's nothing here to match the pop thrills of Young Folks, Amsterdam or Up Against the Wall, but Gimme Some offers a riposte to those who think the trio are living on past glories.

Burn it: May Seem Macabre; (Don't Let Them) Cool Off

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