Swedes living la vida on curious new outing
Rating: 7 / 10
Francis Jones, 31 Mar 2009
The 2006 single ‘Young Folks’ marked a breakthrough for Peter Bjorn And John. Powered by that whimsically whistled melody the song was fiercely addictive and, like all addicts, we wanted more of the same. In 2009, however, their landmark moment represents something of a millstone around their necks. In truth, the Swedes always were a more experimental band than their hit song suggested, a fact emphasised by last year’s largely instrumental Seaside Rock. Oddity continues to abound on Living Thing.
Armed only with their unerring pop instincts, they traipse into the badlands of ‘80s pop and Afrobeat, sprinkling the opening brace of ‘The Feeling’ and ‘It Don’t Move Me’ with an assortment of handclaps and clattering percussion. This is pop music as conceived by the engineers of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. With its clink of champagne flute beats and high-spirited children’s choir, ‘Nothing To Worry About’ has a zesty vibe that recalls Gorillaz, whilst the title-track brazenly flaunts its familiarity with Paul Simon’s Graceland.
On ‘I’m Losing My Mind’ and ‘Just The Past’ the mood turns a little sourer. Life gets broken down and relationships busted up as paranoia, regret and disappointment crowd the heart. On an album of peculiarities, ‘Blue Period Picasso’ manages to take the proverbial biscuit, the narrative ostensibly relayed from the perspective of one of Pablo’s paintings. Such idiosyncrasy is typical of this charmingly wayward pop record. And, whilst it refuses to put out on the first few listens, Living Thing will, ultimately, reward those who remain faithful.
Key Track: 'Nothing to worry about'