Thursday, March 19, 2009

CD Review: Living Thing (PB+J)

Comments: With across the board **** to ***** (out of *****) ratings and grades above 8.0 (out of 10), Writer's Block -- the third studio album by Swedish indie-pop sensations Peter Bjorn and John -- is considered the band's magnum opus. Only a truly all-around amazing album could top it. Living Thing offers more varied sound and matches up no question to its predecessor (Seaside Rock, the band's mixed-reviewed 2008 instrumental release, doesn't count). "The Feeling" is a mellow electro-pop, drum-and-clap offering that contains some elements of a Capella. "It Don't Move Me" sounds like Tears for Fear meets the Arctic Monkeys. The synth works well with Peter Moren's never-fail vocals. "Just the Past" has a steady drum and hints of Afropop, making it draw an instant comparison to anything that Vampire Weekend has ever produced. The song finishes with a nice little repetitive "na-la-la-na-la-la-la-na..." chorus. "Nothing to Worry About" has been the most hyped track pre-release. It deserves praise simply for the kid-chanting chorus and it's lyrical comparison to "Amsterdam," coincidentally the fourth track off of Writer's Block (compare "put a little money in this type of thing" to "put a little money into traveling"). "Losing My Mind" is kind of random considering its pure post-punk revival in the vein of Interpol and Editors, as opposed to the more indie-pop prior four tracks. I can definitely see this as a potentially astonishing live song to perform. The title track "Living Thing" is impressive and is more symptomatic of PB+J's prior work, yet also very experimental and even a tidbit Animal Collective-y. "I Want You" is great! Put on headphones for the full effect. The guitar is particularly catchy, the vocals entrancing, and the feedback bass line just fitting (for lack of a better word). Best track on the album? I would argue so. "Hey, shut the fuck up boy, you are starting to piss me off. Take your hands off of that girl, you've already had enough." Yup, those are the opening lines of "Lay It Down." Innovative, huh? Snap your fingers and sing along to the aforementioned lines. You'll have fun. I tried it and I certainly did. I'm going to go ahead and say the next song "Stay This Way" is like a really good Jens Lekman tune. It's a story, some snapping, and a slow guitar riff. It makes Peter Moren happy. It makes him not want to go back or move on. A little disco goes down in "Blue Period Picasso," but don't let that label get to you. It's just a part of Moren's beating heart. Seriously, though, sometimes I wonder how the hell this band comes up with its lyrics and general song structure. It's beauty. You'll know what I am talking about. "4 out of 5," is it a reference to the first sentence of this review? Doubt that, but it could be a little foresight of what Rolling Stone would give this album. I like the '60s feel to this song. "Last Night" is the perfect speed for an album closer. A fast song just wouldn't make sense. I kind of expected a crazy experimental build-up towards the end, but you can't always get what you want. And that's perfectly fine. Looking at this album as a whole, I can't find too many faults. There are no "Objects of My Affection" or "Young Folks," but there are many tracks that have the same kind of awesomeness factor -- a reason why PB+J is a mainstay in my Top 10 favorite bands of all-time.

Grade: 9.4 out of 10 - Éxcellent

1 comment:

Your comments are valued greatly. Please adhere to the decorum on the "First time here?" page. Comments that are in violation of any of the rules will be deleted without notice.

3/11 Update - No Moderation

*Non-anonymous commenting is preferred to avoid mix-ups. Anonymous comments are, at the behest of management, more likely to be deleted than non-anonymous comments.