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PETER BJORN AND JOHN – Writer’s Block (V2 Scandinavia/Wichita Recordings)

Posted: December 15th, 2006, by Maxwell Williams

My building has a free wireless network, so last night I peeked and saw that my neighbor’s iTunes had a few Peter Bjorn and John songs from their new album Writer’s Block. She had a bunch of Cat Power and Joanna Newsom and a couple newer things like New Young Pony Club. But Peter Bjorn and John? I hadn’t even heard the whole record yet and I’m an editor at a New York culture magazine, which made this casual listener’s iTunes a testement to the incredible word of mouth success the sophomore record from the Swedish pop trio is enjoying despite limited marketing in the US, thanks largely in part to the rediculously infectious lead single “Young Folks.”

“Young Folks” revolves around a crisp whistle solo, gentle beats and some of the most alchemical boy/girl switch-verses this side of “Don’t You Want Me,” with the Concretes’ Victoria Bergman cooing indifferently about the hipsters, and choosing the unsure Peter over all the other boring people with even more unsure lines like, “I would go along with someone like you.” The romance of the song is new and intriguing, like when you just say fuck it, and you finally dive into that relationship that’s been brewing, but you’ve never been really sure until now.

Lyrically, the simple expression of small joys and slight losses seems to keep this album always clever and surprising. No one will ever confuse Peter Bjorn and John with the Beach Boys in terms of vocal harmonies. In fact, none of the trio’s almost equally used voices are all that great, but they’re sincere and they’re placed flatteringly with the various emotional highs and lows of the music.

It’s those various shifts in the music that makes Writer’s Block so compelling. They jangle for the Byrds, chime rhythemically for the Chills, bounce along for the Lucksmiths, croon for Jens Lekman. Always there’s a hidden dulcimer or Spanish guitar that climbs its way through the songs and the whole thing just sounds joyous and fresh in a way no other record has sounded to me this year. Too bad I caught on so late.

-Maxwell Williams

V2 Scandinavia & Finland
Wichita Recordings

Maxwell Williams

1 Response to PETER BJORN AND JOHN – Writer’s Block (V2 Scandinavia/Wichita Recordings)

  1. Anonymous


    Nice spell check dude.