Greetings from Sweden! After two previous albums, Stockholm natives Peter, Bjorn and John have certainly been welcomed into America’s open arms. Their third album, “Writer’s Block,” has gotten them nominated in the Best New Artist category for MTV’s Video Music Awards, which airs Sept. 9 and a direct TV concert special. They have also had appearances on The Late Show with Conan O’Brian, as well as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Their first single, “Young Folks” was aired on the show “Grey’s Anatomy” in February as well.
Much like a jet stream catching an oblivious sail boat in its current, this great band has only now begun to gain enough momentum to be realized upon our western shores.
That having been said, it must be expressed that, like many indie-rock bands, upon first listen, “Writer’s Block” may not blow off your socks. Similar to At the Drive-In’s “Vaya,” it takes a few complete listens to really get into the disc. However, like the previously mentioned album once you’re in, you are in.
This is a record that can be put on at a party as the backing soundtrack or left to reside in your car’s cd player on repeat. The initial single, “Young Folks,” is probably the most catchy song I have heard since Blind Melon’s “No Rain.”
Either way, with the whistling melody and a guest female vocal line by Victoria Bergsman of The Concretes, “Young Folks” airy guitars, vocals and faded percussion make for an incredibly memorable song, perhaps the make-out song for summer 2007.
But a great album does not stand on one song alone and Peter, Bjorn and John defiantly drive this point home with track after track of inventive rhythms and unique arrangements. From the driving “Objects of My Affection,” to the synth-driven “Amsterdam,” the entire record has a very distinctly Scandinavian sound that is quite difficult to truly describe in words alone. A favorite track is sure to be without a doubt the ridiculously original “Chills, The.” The opening line, “Your tongue is sharp, but I miss the taste of it,” brings the listener in with the drum beat and doesn’t let go until the last measure of the song.
It seems that after years of neglect, the United States is finally putting quality bands back into the limelight, whether they are homegrown or not. For the longest time, it felt as if we were musically an island unto ourselves in the indie-rock genre, never even allowing our own to rise to popularity. One must also ask themselves with such unique artists coming into their own, do we as fans really want bands such as Peter, Bjorn, and John to be made into pop commodities? The only thing that seems feasible to this fan is to just listen, enjoy, and hope they stay true to form, Modest Mouse style.
Nick Mehalick is a student at West Chester University. He can be reached at NM576216@wcupa.edu.