Peter, Bjorn and John: Writer’s Block

It seems to me that the Swedes have a particular musical sensibility that shines through no matter the what they do. Lately I’ve noticed alot of bands originating in Sweden, of a variety of genres, who are world class examples of their particular brand of music. Many still conjure the image of ABBA when the words “Sweden” and “music” appear together and this is unfortuneate (sorry ABBA fans) because there is alot more to the Swedish music scene that world should be paying attention to. Shining examples of every genre insidiously await your attention, from the catchy hooks of Snook to the alternatingly brutal and melodic stylings of Opeth and Meshuggah, the Swedes have it covered. Now, I can hear the naysayers saying:

“Nay! The Swedes do not have it covered, actually, Mr. Bread! What about those of us who don’t want to learn Swedish or want something more melodic than the towering behemoth of rage that is Swedish metal?”

I say unto you, meet Peter, Bjorn and John:

Pop! That’s right, pop! Swedish pop. Remember that, ABBA fans? It’s back and it wants to invade your system like a blood-born parasite. Writer’s Block is is a sublime collection of infectious melodies and qualtiy songwriting. The lyrics have an elegant and subversive nature, lying just beneath the surface of the enchanting music, waiting for you to discover them. A prime example of this is Let’s call it off:

Peter, Bjorn and John: Let’s call it off

A casual listen to this song reveals a lively, upbeat surf tune, complete with the dulcet tones of a watery lead guitar and vocal harmonies that would force Brian Wilson to admit just how redundant he is. All in all, a lovely, little singalong tune. Most will note the dichotomy between the tone of the music and the title. The music would indicate a somewhat carefree attitude, perhaps best expressed on a sunny day as one makes one’s way to the beach. But the title is a neat indicator of the subversive lyrics that lie beneath the surface. This boppy, little pop tune is a breakup song. The frankness of the lyrics convey an apathetic, almost callous attitude towards what is clearly a defunct relationship:

did you agree we should let it be
and did you agree
it’s a must
let’s call the whole thing off

As far as this guy’s concerned, it’s a foregone conclusion. This relationship’s dead and the other participant has no choice but to concede it. To make matters worse, it is revealed in the second verse that the composer of this little ditty isn’t particularly interested in analysing why the relationship’s over or if there’s any way to make it work:

I don’t want to know why we couldn’t do more
Some things are better to leave unexplored

Ultimately, though, the appeal of this album is the amazing songwriting chemistry that occurs when these three men walk into a studio. Each song is immediately appealing but becomes increasingly catchy with each listen. You would be forgiven for writing off this as a simple pop album at first, but with each successive listen it becomes harder and harder to walk away. Most pop leaves me bitter, jaded and pondering just where the music industry went wrong, but Peter, Bjorn and John give me a sense of hope. I leave you to ponder the fourth track of the album, Amsterdam. The mechanical precision with which the drum beat drives this song along interacts brilliantly with the driving drone of the vocals and, when I listen to it in the morning, it stays with me all day.

Peter, Bjorn and John: Amsterdam

Those interested can obtain a copy of Writer’s Block from thier Official Site.

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~ by Morgan on August 12, 2008.

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