14 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Writer’s Block was the stunning breakthrough album for the Swedish indie pop trio Peter Bjorn & John, following a couple of decent albums that pointed the band towards romantic pop built on stripped down instrumentation and equally naked emotional expression. A strong sense of melancholy permeates, but never overwhelms the songs, due to the use of bubbling arrangements, electronic beats, shimmering synthesizers, and Peter Moren’s wistful, heartbreaking vocal delivery. Spicing songs up with things like steel drums, bongos, insanely catchy whistling and reverb soaked vocals that evoke an out-of-body-experience are brilliant moves, and of course with lyrics as honest and direct as, “I’m all about you, you’re all about me / we’re all about each other” — well, let’s just say love is in the air in a big way, and it’s hard to feel down about that.  “Up Against the Wall” has to be seven of the most heartbreaking minutes in contemporary pop (with “Roll the Credits” providing the next six and a half!), while “Objects of My Affection” and “Start to Melt” might provide us with some of the most powerful shoegazing of the new millennium. The heart of the album is the charming and guitarless “Young Folks,” featuring those cool bongo drums and the vocal duet of Moren and Victoria Bergsman (formerly of The Concretes), a palpable testament to new love. Perfection.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Writer’s Block was the stunning breakthrough album for the Swedish indie pop trio Peter Bjorn & John, following a couple of decent albums that pointed the band towards romantic pop built on stripped down instrumentation and equally naked emotional expression. A strong sense of melancholy permeates, but never overwhelms the songs, due to the use of bubbling arrangements, electronic beats, shimmering synthesizers, and Peter Moren’s wistful, heartbreaking vocal delivery. Spicing songs up with things like steel drums, bongos, insanely catchy whistling and reverb soaked vocals that evoke an out-of-body-experience are brilliant moves, and of course with lyrics as honest and direct as, “I’m all about you, you’re all about me / we’re all about each other” — well, let’s just say love is in the air in a big way, and it’s hard to feel down about that.  “Up Against the Wall” has to be seven of the most heartbreaking minutes in contemporary pop (with “Roll the Credits” providing the next six and a half!), while “Objects of My Affection” and “Start to Melt” might provide us with some of the most powerful shoegazing of the new millennium. The heart of the album is the charming and guitarless “Young Folks,” featuring those cool bongo drums and the vocal duet of Moren and Victoria Bergsman (formerly of The Concretes), a palpable testament to new love. Perfection.

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About Peter Bjorn and John

Peter Bjorn and John formed in 1999 in Stockholm, Sweden, comprising members Peter Morén on vocals, guitar, and harmonica; Björn Yttling on vocals, bass, and keyboards; and John Eriksson on drums, percussion, and vocals. Although influenced by the sounds of classic '60s baroque pop, power pop, and new wave, the band shunned the "revivalist" tag and, instead, created some of the most exciting and original indie rock of the mid-2000s.

Peter Bjorn and John began playing gigs soon after forming and eventually found themselves on music compilations alongside artists like Sahara Hotnights, Badly Drawn Boy, and Holiday for Strings. After releasing the Forbidden Chords EP and a pair of singles ("Failing and Passing" and "I Don't Know What I Want Us to Do"), the band released its self-titled first album in 2002 on the tiny Beat That! label. After more shows, more EPs (People They Know, 100m of Hurdles), and another single ("See Through"), the group jumped to the Planekonomi label in 2004 and released the Beats, Traps & Backgrounds EP. It was soon followed by the 2004 album Falling Out, which was picked up for American release by Hidden Agenda in late 2005. The record placed them -- along with the Concretes, the Shout Out Louds (both of whom Yttling has produced records for), and the Legends -- at the forefront of the sparkling wave of promising pop bands coming from Sweden.

The band's third album, Writer's Block, followed a year later and became a minor international hit, buoyed by the catchy single "Young Folks." The song's video also boosted the band's profile, gently propelling Peter Bjorn and John into a very 2000s kind of fame that culminated in them playing the tune with Kanye West at the 2007 Way Out West Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden. After completing various tours in support of Writer's Block, the band focused on other projects (including Yttling's production work and Morén's 2008 solo album, The Last Tycoon) before coming together to record and release a largely instrumental album, Seaside Rock, in the autumn of 2008. Living Thing, the band's darker, more experimental fourth full-length album, was released several months later in early 2009. In 2011, Peter Bjorn and John returned to their melodic pop roots with the decidedly more accessible Gimme Some.

After that album's release, the trio members once again went their separate way and worked on a wide variety of projects. Morén released a solo album in 2012, the Swedish-language Pyramiden; Yttling maintained his busy production career, working with Chrissie Hynde and Lykke Li most notably; and Eriksson released two albums under the name Hortlax Cobra. Inevitably, the trio regrouped and went into the studio to record its seventh album, calling in collaborators like Patrik Berger (Icona Pop, Robyn), Paul Epworth (Florence + the Machine, U2), Greg Kurstin (Sia, Adele), Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Kanye West), and Pontus Winnberg (Miike Snow) to help out. Breakin' Point was released by INGRID in June of 2016. ~ Tim Sendra

  • ORIGIN
    Stockholm, Sweden
  • FORMED
    1999

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