Peter Bjorn and John and the genre of annoyance

Get ready to get sick of Peter Bjorn and John again. 

When the Swedish indie rock trio first made it big in 2006, it was because of their rainbow-infused pop hit “Young Folks,” the definition of a ditty. It was catchier than the flu in November. It’s also the last song you want stuck on repeat because that’s how iPods end up in pieces on the pavement.

This time around, PB&J have supplanted your brain with “Gimme Some,” their newest album and their first since the 2009 dud “Living Thing,” which fizzled because it lacked a “Young Folks” track. Looks like the Swedes learned from their mistakes.

The band gets back to their simple, poppy, pretty boring roots on “Gimme Some.” Boring, yeah, but also catchy. In fact the art of catchiness pretty much requires this innocent simplicity.

Remember the song “Tomorrow Has to Wait.” Because you’ll have no choice. This is the new “Young Folks,” but with no whistles this time around. Instead, it’s the whirr of their vocals that trap you with the hook, “I don’t think that you are sorry for what you did.” Well-spaced drums bang simply in the background as the trio drills this hook into your head, straight through to the other side. 

It’s really catchy. That’s a compliment the first 10 times you hear it, but this song should never be played more than twice in a row out of respect for your fellow human beings.

Then there’s “Dig a Little Deeper.” Beginning with a surfing guitar riff and ending never because it will keep playing in your temporal lobe for eternity, this ditty rivals “Tomorrow Has to Wait” for mind-numbing likeability. Syncopated “Ohh-ohs” add just the right amount of nuance to make you bop your head idiotically and love it. 

And the boys get philosophical with their hook on this one, perhaps speaking to two-bit music reviewers about creativity: “All art has been contemporary,” they sing captivatingly (somehow). “Dig a little deeper.” The best part about this song is an easy-going kind of tribal drum solo backed by a thick bass line.

Peter Bjorn and John let their lollipop sound go in favor of a darker side on “(Don’t Let Them) Cool Off.” They go the rout of classic rock here, and get a little punkish on a track that leans heavily on guitars and syncopated “Hey!” chants.

It just so happens that the catchiest three songs on this album are frontloaded, and there isn’t much reason to listen to the rest. But if you’re looking for the easy-listening Kenny G of indie-pop, Peter Bjorn and John are here for you. 

And they’ll continue to be there for you, even after you’re done with them.

Make it stop.

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Alexandria Times Staff

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