Writer's Block

Peter Bjorn And John

Wichita, 2006

http://www.peterbjornandjohn.com/

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/25/2007

Having grown up in the 90s, I associate the pop genre with Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Thankfully, Writer’s Block, the third album from Swedish imports Peter Bjorn and John, is a different kind of pop beast, containing lush, quirky and intelligent tracks from start to finish with absolutely no traces of “...Baby One More Time”-esque cheesiness.

           

After a 16-second wordless intro, the album bursts to life with the sonically stunning “Objects of My Affections.” Brimming with hopeful energy, the track’s rolling drums and jangling guitars are the perfect companion for such endearingly unpretentious lyrical musings as "And the question is: Was I more alive then than I am now?," to which author Peter Morén proclaims, "I happily have to disagree / I laugh more often now / I cry more often now / I am more me."my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Though the group’s effortless meld of shoegazing melodies and folk-pop is most immediately gratifying, the album just as equally derives its strength from the power of its winsome lyrics, capturing both the first tender, hesitant moments of a burgeoning romance as well as the bitter, lovelorn aftermath of a break-up. Lead single "Young Folks" captures the shy, playful chemistry between Morén and ex-Concretes vocalist Victoria Bergsman; the unmistakable, infectiously whistled hook and cheery bongo drums of the song’s intro slip easily into shimmering guitars, concluding with a bright-eyed, dueted declaration: "All we care about is talking / Talking only me and you. "

Dispersed throughout the album are similarly sweeping odes to newly discovered romance: the buzzing vocals and distorted guitars on John Erikksons’s “Start To Melt” create a hazy, flickering dreamscape, while “Paris 2004” is sheer sentimentality set to little more than a cheerfully plucked acoustic guitar refrain. Detailing the deliciously easy days of an unfolding courtship, Morén croons in an oddly appealing nasally voice “I'm all about you / You're all about me / We're all about each other."

But the pitfalls of love do inevitably manage to undercut all the gleaming contentment: Bjorn Yttling’s “Amsterdam” is a bleary mope, all jagged-edges, simple percussion and jaded vocals bemoaning the notion that “Sometimes you’re just left to be alone,” and “The Chills” translates its residual bitterness into biting acerbity with one-liners like, “Your tongue is sharp / But I miss the taste of it.” Closer “Poor Cow” is the sole slow point of the album, plodding along mind-numbingly for nearly five minutes.

On Writer’s Block, Peter Bjorn and John have embraced and gorgeously rendered the pure, simple and all-too overlooked idea that life is all the more beautiful for having loved and been loved in it. As a result, the album is a pleasure to listen to from first spin and as it unfolds and deepens upon future listening; it’s more than enough to make me switch over to the lighter side of music, that’s for sure.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Wichita, and is used for informational purposes only.