Under Review: Peter Bjorn And John – Gimme Some

There are plenty of signs that suggest that Gimme Some is a conscious step backward for beloved pop trio Peter Bjorn And John. After alienating many with the sparse and experimental Living Thing, Gimme Some’s massive choruses and overdriven production seem tailor-made to recapture the energy of PBJ’s earlier records. A reexamination of guitar-driven power pop? At its most basic level, yes. A retreat into the safety of straightforward songwriting? Hardly. Gimme Some, despite its immediacy, features an abundance of Peter Bjorn And John’s trademark sly flourishes. From cooing wordless refrains to breakneck punk blitzes, Gimme Some finds PBJ at their most raw, but also blazing ahead at record speed.

The album’s tone is set right off the bat, with “Tomorrow Has To Wait” and “Dig A Little Deeper” providing intertwining vocal and instrumental hooks. “Second Chance” features a bit of the darkness that defined Living Thing, as does the aptly-titled “May Seem Macabre.” The back-to-basics nature of Gimme Some goes beyond the immediately noticeable arrangements. On Living Thing especially, vocal duties were shared nearly equally amongst all three members. Guitarist Peter Morén’s takes the lead on almost every song, making Gimme Some more cohesive (if a bit less democratic). Though they provide harmony vocals and shouts here and there, bassist Bjorn Yttling and drummer John Eriksson get the spotlight for one song each. Incidentally John’s is the shortest (the exhaustingly brief “Black Book”) and Bjorn’s is the longest (“I Know You Don’t Love Me,” the krautrock meditation that closes the album).

Gimme Some certainly can’t be accused of sounding like Living Thing (or even Writer’s Block, for that matter), but the album’s overall sentiment is the same as any of PBJ’s works. Whether or not they’re trying to escape the pigeonholing of being “that band” that sings “that song,” Peter Bjorn And John continue to prove themselves as vital performers in today’s pop scene. Past hits be damned, PBJ carry on, always looking to see what fun is just around the corner.

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~ by E. on March 28, 2011.

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