Peter Bjorn & John- Living Thing (2009)

The first single released ahead of the full album by Peter Bjorn & John left me feeling unimpressed. It was strange, and it felt like a bizarre little specimen plucked out of a curio cabinet and offered for examination without any background detail to help me understand it. So I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down to review this album.

So imagine my amazement when I was very pleasantly surprised by how listenable the album is a whole! Suddenly that strange curio is put into context, and it all falls into place. I even found myself starting to love the single I had disliked before, ‘Nothing To Worry About’. Like a bone separated from a skeleton the song meant nothing to me until it was returned to its proper place and given new meaning.

Tribal chants and jerky rhythms stripped of all but the essential flesh left me feeling off guard and open to the spare trace of synthesizers and the hollow, eerie wails of the vocals. Dark primitive percussive beats mingled with space-age austerity and every song had a powerful feeling of distance , desperation and longing. Some of the songs even seem to display a kind of playfulness on the part of the band, with ‘Lay It Down’ being a prime example. It’s a little serious, but pretty bouncy and funny too in an ever-so-lightly-threatening way. ‘Blue Period Picasso’ is both a serious love song but also a great tongue-cheek art metaphor. I believe I can only grow to like individual songs even more as I hear them again and again, and as I pick up the subtlety within. The songs are so bare that’s hard to imagine that so much merit can be hidden within, but it’s there and it’s stirring. “Living Thing” gets a solid 8/10 from me. I really recommend checking out the full album.


8/10

Here’s my favorite song from the album:

Peter Bjorn & John- It Don’t Move Me

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