Peter, Bjorn and John - Living Thing
It’s been three years since Peter, Bjorn and John conquered charts and critic polls alike with their whistle-tastic 2006 track, ‘Young Folks’. Covered by the likes of The Kooks and James Blunt, the track also caught the attention of Kayne West, who sampled it on the Can’t Tell Me Nothing mixtape as well as waxing lyrical about them on his blog. Seemingly, it all proved a bit much for the band, who appeared to shy away from all of the press attention surrounding the song, refusing to allow it to become an albatross around their necks. Their reaction was to release Seaside Rock, an album that appeared to be an attempt to purge themselves of the hoopla surrounding it. Mostly instrumental, it divided opinion, the critics were generally favourable, but the public missed the whistling. Fast forward to 2009 and Peter, Bjorn and John return with a new album, the eagerly awaited Living Thing.
The first thing that becomes apparent with Living Thing is the sparse, almost basic drum machine that presides over much of the album. Despite that, it retains a sense of warmth throughout, largely due to the snyth driven melodies that most of the tracks are awash with; ‘Just The Case’ is a prime example of that. Much of the album relies on this ingredient, which is not necessarily a bad thing by any means. Simplicity has a way of breeding greatness, but the road to that glory is a fine line fraught with dangers. Many of which, Living Thing unfortunately finds itself a victim of - the majority of the tracks are just not strong enough to make an impact by themselves.
‘The Feeling’ is full of promise but never quite delivers; it has plenty of scope but lacks any real gusto. Similarly, ‘Lay It Down’ suffers from the same issue, eventually threatening to bore you rather than thrill. Sure, there are rousing tracks such as ‘Nothing To Worry About’ and ‘It Don’t Move Me’ that do shimmer and shine in the darkness. Both are full of the kind of dynamism that, had it filtered into other songs, would have made this a very good album. Ultimately, Living Thing just feels a bit sterile and lacklustre; it almost seems incomplete in many ways. This isn’t actually a bad album, just disappointing, and sometimes that can be far, far worse.