Peter Bjorn And John, Gimme Some
Songs that'd move teenagers and adults equally
Peter Bjorn and John don't need to whistle to move you. Their last effort, Living Thing, may not have grabbed listeners as relentlessly as "Young Folks," but its standouts "It Don't Move Me" and "Nothing to Worry About," with their fusion of hip-hop beats and synthpop, at least felt contemporary. There were a few kinks: In its effort to sound current, the album occasionally overreached. Employing drum machines, tribal rhythms and doo-wop harmonies, it got bogged down in ill-conceived genre explorations and felt out-of-sync with what fans had come to expect from the hook-and-verse trio.
On their sixth full-length, Gimme Some, Peter Bjorn and John strip back to the bare necessities (aside from one unforgettable cowbell), focus on their core strengths and find themselves sonically closer their canonized breakthrough, Writer's Block. It's a music aficionado's manual to the past 40 years of rock. There's surf-inspired guitar breaks, power pop arrangements, punkish antiphony, New Wave-sounding drums, and trademark noisepop fuzz bass. What could have turned into a dizzying scrapbook is, instead, a harmonious, rock-centric collection — thanks in part to guidance from the Cardigans' veteran producer Per Sunding. Sunding especially refines on the lush single, "Second Chance." Pairing punchy guitar riffs with a cowbell rhythm, the swampy jam is transformed into a festival-ready garage anthem, with ample reverb and guitar twang.
The record also finds the trio tuning up their heartbreak with similar ease: Writer's Block hit hard because of its prescriptions for recovering from breakups, and the fetching Swedes strum through their love hangovers once again here. "Breaker Breaker" and "I Know You Don't Love Me" are the closest in spirit to Writer's Block. The former, propelled by Peter Morén's drawl, and the latter by revved-up drums and a bassline that conjures Simple Minds' angsty love cry, "Don't You," showcase PB&J's unique brand of life-affirming pop. They're songs that'd move teenagers and adults equally.