Friday, April 01, 2011
Album Review: Peter Bjorn & John - Gimme Some (4/5)
Swedish indie rock band Peter Bjorn and John emerged in 2002, often described as a trio of wimpy rockers, who could barely pick up a guitar let alone rock out. Their sixth album Gimme Some is my first real exposure to the band—although I have heard of their work before—they landed their first UK top twenty hit in 2006 with the fun, downbeat, tuneful whistling of “Young Folks” backed with prominent drum lines that they use in numerous different adverts now.
The sound on Gimme Some isn’t nearly as jaunty as “Folks,” opening number “Tomorrow Has to Wait” quickly establishes the band’s hollowing sound—layers of muffled electronic guitars sputter beneath the wall of cumbersome drums—re-calling a little Arcade Fire maybe? From here on, most of their sound is heavily guitar-based.
“Dig a Little Deeper” is a little lighter, exhausting tuneful guitar riffs, complimenting the dishevelled drums beats stapled in the backdrop. The guitars get a lot heavier on single “Second Chance,” infusing energetic bursts of layered electronic guitars, particularly on its chorus which swiftly merges into an acoustic guitar sequence for the verses—very aptly radio friendly—but even better is the rhythmic drum beats and the raucous kinetic handclaps of “Eyes,” lined with rippling guitar chords. It’s one of my favourites on here.
Apart from the Arcade Fire influences earlier, if there are any apparent influences on here, it’s probably The Strokes—the rapid drum fire of “Breaker Breaker” definitely has the American rock band in mind down to the similar sounding dampened guitars, ‘70s new wave throwback aura and stifling vocal. Similarly, “(Don’t Let Them) Cool Off” and “Lies” again, rapid drum fire and muffled guitar chords sounds a little Strokes like too. Obviously, originality wasn’t the focal point on here—but who cares—they’re great tracks.
“May Seem Macabre” strips down the overbearing layers of electronic guitars we’ve heard so far to a more restrict prominent drum line and light bursts of guitaric melodies. “Black Book” has a great guitar start-stop sound—although it’s not particularly interesting. “Down Like Me” illustrates self-inflicted depression (or something like that) driven by a plodding guitar and drum melody.
Gimme Some is decent rock record, with a handful of highlights, although a little samey at times. Personally, I would have liked to have heard a little more variation in sound but in all a good album.
Best: Eyes, Second Chance, Breaker Breaker, Tomorrow Has to Wait, May Seem Macabre