Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Engineering by Brett Allen
But Peter Moren seems like such a splendid fellow. The same goes for John Eriksson and Bjorn Yttling, though the butter in the PB&J does seem to be the toughest gent to crack, reserving himself for the people that maybe know him a little bit more, not just random passerby. These three men from Sweden, who attained near instant stardom when their single "Young Folks," from 2006's "Writer's Block," went absolutely haywire and they were just as instantly dubbed the band with that one whistling song, do not seem like they'd been dipping their legs into the bitter waters, or were planning on doing so anytime soon. However, everyone gets bothered in their own little ways. They all take things with different sizes to their grains of salt. Some grains of salt are as big as houses. It just depends what kind of processing has already been done, how many have chiseled off the mother rock of the chunk of seasoning. This year's "Living Thing," is piping full of songs that express some of the disenchantment that maybe came about following the crush of bodies wanting to be next to these three men to just catch a whiff of whatever magical crystals might be drafting off from behind them. It's the natural reaction to fame and relative fortune, however ridiculously rapid its onset is. It attracts those who just want to breathe in deep around it, who just want to have photos snapped and palms pressed as mementos of the brush with it. Without ever having been someone afflicted with this particular condition - and so few people out of all of us are - there's no way to accurately assume where it all gets difficult, where it all starts to make a person fray shabbily from the edges, where it all becomes some ludicrous simulation of an existence worth protecting and worth being as appropriately enamored with - this fame and popularity gig. "Living Thing" seems to be an assimilation of the many different ways that these guys had to change or were forced to change at the hands of the whirlwind flash of events that struck them cold, while they were most hot. It's an album that seems to assemble that many different aspects of their lives that weren't living so well anymore, but rather, were examples of the things they were losing in this new life. Some of their new encounters - different versions of the young folks that they were almost gleefully writing about just a few years earlier, as if they still held some kind of hope for them - were people that they despised, that they didn't want to be anywhere near, but they were forced to counter them with air punches and squirming situations inside their skin and heads (as chronicled in "Lay It Down"). The Peter Bjorn and John that we appear to be getting on this new album is one that needs a vacation - or needed a vacation, got one and still reflected back on all of the happenings with a sort of blackened ire for the most part. It's as if things that were previously cherished as sacred and necessary for health and mental well-being were threatened, charred a bit into deformities - marred shadows of their former selves and they see it as all for shame. It's a tragic exploration of all that gets lost when so much is supposedly gained. Its gravity is so cruelly imparted on them as it is on us. "It Don't Move Me" is really, completely heartbreaking if we're to take the sentiment literally - a guy moving through a new life inspired and turned on by nothing at all any longer. It takes on an apocalyptic tint, talking about everything being gone and history being over and there's a push and pull of desire and fear that wants and doesn't want the screen to go black, all black. The books and the magazines, the people, the lovers, none of it matters to the guy anymore. It's all just superfluous trash, fluttering wherever it can drift, leaving nothing of substance to show for it. The man is non-plussed, entirely vacant to whatever's being offered. It's nice that being uninspired by people and things still sounds as if it's glisteningly majestic in the hands of these Swedes.