There is some rationale in approaching an LP as a collection of singles. Singles are what sell and what provide bands their breakthrough. But by that logic, why even release an album? Why not release a string of singles? Because the truth is when you treat an album like 12 singles, as Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John have done with Breakin’ Point, you end up with an album that is frustratingly one-note; that one note being the sound of indie pop circa the mid-’00s.

To be fair, there is nothing unenjoyable about PB&J’s seventh album. In fact, it’s carefully curated fun, all lively keys and hand-claps. But even well-intentioned pop fun can become monotonous. Peter Morén’s vocals convey little emotion and vary imperceptibly from song to song. Björn Yttling’s keys are set to shimmering pop throughout, and his synth lines are relegated to mere accents atop already sugar-coated compositions. And, excluding hand-claps, John Eriksson’s percussion either sticks to simple dance beats or childlike woodblocks.

The title track serves as an accurate gauge of the album’s sound, built around a darker beat with whimsy provided by Yttling’s whistling keys and a backing youth chorus. But perhaps more so than “Breakin’ Point,” the opening trio of “Dominos,” “Love is What You Want” and “Do-Si-Do” shows PB&J trying their hardest to capture pop radio bliss. Among the key points of reference are fellow Swedes, ABBA. “Dominos” features higher-register vocals and bouncing piano chords around a bopping, ’70s-indebted beat. “Love is What You Want” takes one glistening key line of a hook and layers it with a guitar riff (a rarity here), stuttering synths and falsetto/child vocals. On “Do-Si-Do,” PB&J go full-on ABBA. It’s a seamless blend of lighthearted disco and indie pop, the chorus perfectly capturing their wistfulness and infusing the lyrics with a sense of nostalgia.

For each relative big pop success on Breakin’ Point, PB&J find themselves mired in cliché and shallow music. “Nostalgic Intellect” sees Morén out front on guitar, giving the cautionary tale of being heartless some much-needed grit. But it unfortunately features the cringe-worthy lyric, “What’s the point with a phone that smart/ If you don’t have a flexible heart?” “Hard Sleep” reverts back to joyous, soaring pop, but hinges its hard-won climax on the cheesy lyric, “I’m always able to see the fireworks in your eyes.” “Between the Lines” is a bopping track whose frustrated lyrics – “This vicious circle should/ Have been a circle of trust” – don’t fit well with Morén’s falsetto jubilance during the wispy chorus and the track’s cacophony of indie percussion.

The subject matter throughout is your typical fare of insecurities and romantic uncertainties – the backbone of pop. And PB&J’s intent is easy enough to see when even the moodier, more emotional lyrics are put to incongruous sunny synth lines and reverberating beats. They are determined to deliver euphoric choruses on every track. If it were just one song, that would be the stuff of pop earworm perfection. Unfortunately, 12 songs in a row is not only tiresome, but also an indication PB&J are merely chasing the highs of their former pop radio glory, trying to replicate the infectious energy of their hit “Young Folks” by creating a relentlessly high-energy pop album.

  • From the Vaults of Streaming Hell: Koi…Mil Gaya

    Few films will leave you as borderline offended, flabbergasted, entertained and touched as…
  • Oeuvre: Campion: Holy Smoke!

    Holy Smoke! manages to revisit some of the same themes as The Piano yet in a less cohesive…
  • Mountain

    Like Planet Earth, Mountain offers beautiful shots of some of the most treacherous places …
  • John Coltrane: Ballads/A Love Supreme

    Does the world really need a 55th-anniversary remaster of A Love Supreme, without any extr…
  • Low Cut Connie: Private Lives

    Weiner’s comfort standing on instruments and running through crowds once overshadowed the …
  • Nasty: Menace

    Those who want a solid summation of what modern beatdown is all about, look no further. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

From the Vaults of Streaming Hell: Koi…Mil Gaya

Few films will leave you as borderline offended, flabbergasted, entertained and touched as…