4 to Watch: Peter, Björn and John

Music Features Peter Bjorn and John

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Members [l-r]: Björn Yttling (bass, keyboards), Peter Morén (guitar, harmonica), John Eriksson (drums, percussion). (All sing)
Fun Fact: PB&J sing in English because “it’s easier to write personal stuff when you don’t use your own language.”
Why They’re Worth Watching: The trio’s whirlwind tour of the States involved more high-profile gigs in a week than most groups get in a lifetime.
For Fans Of: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Camera Obscura, The Concretes

For Peter Björn and John’s maiden voyage to America, there were no gaps in the itinerary. Remarkably, the three Swedes knew exactly where to go, who to meet and what to pack. Then again, the journey was 16 years in the making. Of course, few bands plan on playing three sold-out shows, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic all in the same week, and even fewer exercise the patience necessary to realize such grandiose dreams. Fortunately, PB&J have a knack for aging their music to perfection.

As teens, Peter and Björn began writing songs together, but only with the addition of John eight years later did the collaboration bear any fruit. “We just didn’t get a deal,” Björn recalls. “We weren’t good enough.”

Since John’s arrival eight years ago, however, PB&J have released three albums, eight singles and three EPs, a proli?c streak for a band that dubbed its latest record Writer’s Block. “We needed someone who was thinking like us, and we didn’t have that before,” Björn explains. “Now we have this kind of magic when we play.”

This magic Björn speaks of is a gorgeous blend of fuzzy textures and ’60s-throwback melodies that makes dancing more an imperative than an inclination. On buzzy, border-crossing single “Young Folks,” PB&J somehow combine bongos, maracas and a whistling refrain so infectious that you’ll wonder why more bands don’t just ditch the guitar and use their lips instead. “It’s a good single and a good song to listen to, but the amount of people that think that is incredible,” Björn says. “It was a huge surprise for us.”

With 16 years’ practice, his modesty sounds genuine as can be.

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