Long before they were a band, Swedish indie-pop hipsters Peter Morén, Björn Yttling, and John Eriksson were just three songwriters and soundmakers, bashing around classic pop forms, trying to find something that sounded cool. And today, even though they record and tour as Peter Bjorn and John (or PB&J if you really want to go there), they’re still less of a power trio than a triple-threat of modern pop songcraft. These guys know how tunes work, and they know how to craft one from the inside out.
But something’s different on Gimme Some, their sixth full-length studio album. The energy level is up; the production is clanky and raw; the guitars ring louder, and the drums hit harder. For the first time, Peter Bjorn and John actually sound like—dare we say—a rock band. And the look fits them, with the band traveling a crash-course through all genres powerful—on the hypnotic kraut-rock groover “I Know You Don’t Love Me,” Eriksson bashes out a hi-hat-heavy beat and Yttling beats the hell out of one bass note for most of the song’s five-and-a-half minutes, making space for a breathy, oddly sensual vocal. “Eyes” is a career highpoint, the three vocalists weaving an array of catchy harmonies and backing vocals above psychedelic guitar swells and bone-dry drums and bass. Not many bands could reference both Neu! and “I Want Candy” on the same album; Peter Bjorn and John not only do just that—they actually make the sounds compliment one another. Tuneful, immediate, and subtly weird.