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April 5, 2011

It's no "Young Folks," but young folks will like Gimme Some

Peter Bjorn and John will probably always live in the shadow of their 2006 hit “Young Folks.” The song’s melody, along with the mellow vocals and seemingly indifferent yet powerful lyrics made it one magnetic song, topping charts and appearing in numerous commercials and television shows. The band has now released Gimme Some, its third album since then, but we’re still waiting for another “Young Folks.” Still, it’s important to remember that there’s more to Peter Bjorn and John than the song that was featured in everything from Gossip Girl to European commercials.

Every aspect of Gimme Some seems authentic, and much of the album is just fun. Some songs, like “Tomorrow Has to Wait,” are upbeat and fast, drawing in some of the whistling techniques that have made this band so famous. Yet the trio is talented enough to turn around and make an almost purely punk song, like “Black Book.” In contrast, the long guitar solo in “Eyes” makes it clear that the song is more light-hearted and fun than deep and thought-provoking. Yet no matter how diverse the songs become, they never lose their ability to captivate the audience’s emotions, an essential part of every great album.

In addition to the instrumentation, the vocals are a constant strength throughout the album. Lead vocalist Peter Morén has a distinct and recognizable voice that distinguishes Peter Bjorn and John from other bands. The vocals seem raw—they aren’t watered down, drowned out, or otherwise made to sound different from the artists’ actual voices. When performing live, Peter Bjorn and John sound just as great as on their recorded album.

While Gimme Some has most of the key elements that make a rock album great, some may find the lyrics lacking. There’s no doubt that lyrics are usually one of the most important components of a song. While the beat and rhythm draw you in, the lyrics keep you connected to the artist. However, Gimme Some is one of those rare albums that succeeds despite its lack of meaningful lyrics. In this case, the absence of substantive lyrics gives way to great rock music. And that is what this album has—awesome guitar riffs, a flowing rhythm from one track to another, and distinctive vocals. The vague lyrics also allow for freedom of interpretation, giving the audience a more personal listening experience. And with the diversity of lyrics, beats, and rhythm in Gimme Some, it’s likely that any listener could find a song they can connect with.

There are some great songs in Peter Bjorn and John’s new album, but nothing catchy enough to earn them another international hit. But does it matter? While Peter Bjorn and John may never make another hit like “Young Folks,” listeners shouldn’t pass judgment on Gimme Some without listening. For those music lovers in search of a great album to listen to while reading, muddling through homework, or chilling with friends, Gimme Some is an album worth digging into.

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