The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Swedes make some sweet tunes

Swedish indie-pop. Yes, it sounds strange and maybe a bit daunting. But rest assured, it’s fun stuff (in a pseudo-sappy ’80s way). “Writer’s Block,” the third album from the Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John, proves that, yes, romance-centric pop can be fun and, better yet, brilliant.

Consisting of Peter Morén, Björn Yttling, and John Eriksson, the band Peter Bjorn and John was formed in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1999. The trio’s sound draws from ’60s pop and New Wave, and moody ’80s crooners like Morrissey. However, they maintain a surprisingly optimistic tone despite the cavernous reverb that pervades throughout the album.

The album starts off with a short intro that’s poignant, as a distant sounding piano plays slowly over ambient chatter.

However, this melancholic tone is quickly shattered as the driving guitar, bass and percussion of “Objects of My Affection” kicks in the sonic door. The instruments play powerfully; they’re steady and concise, as if to announce that this album has a point and Peter Bjorn and John are going to drive the point into you until it is clear and undeniable.

The guitars then give way to Peter Morén’s unfaltering voice only to start again after he finishes his verse. The drums roll on with determination, moving like a train. The chorus embodies the reflective but optimistic tone of the album as Morén sings “and the question is,/ was I more alive then/ than I am now?/ I happily have to disagree/ I laugh more often now/ I cry more often now/ I am more me.”

Following “Objects of My Affection” is the extraordinarily catchy pop ditty “Young Folks.” A blithely whistled tune lulls over a bouncy drum beat, precluding the shy exchanges between Morén and former Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman. The two capture the fleeting hesitance of two strangers as affection takes hold.

Bergsman’s voice, airy and alluring, illuminates the lyrical focus on the ease and endearing captivation during the outset of love. Morén and Bergsman capture the blissful abandonment of self-consciousness as they sing, “all we care about is talking/ talking only me and you.”

However, the lighthearted “Young Folks” is followed by a dismal “Amsterdam,” in which a man laments the absence of his lover who is on vacation. A low voice drones with depressive weight, “Baby went to Amsterdam/ she put a little money into traveling/ now it’s so slow/ so slow.” Synthesizers, a listless drum beat, and a heavy bass line add bleakness to the already dreary lyrics, making them sound a bit like Joy Division’s.

However, the combating moods from track to track make the album appealing. Variety is tough for a trio, but Peter Bjorn and John provide an array of sonic landscapes that revolve around a focused and consistent theme.

Lyrically, “Writer’s Block” contains all the emotional shifts of romance, balancing sentiments of euphoric romantic fascination with the mournful and pensive moods surrounding breakups. It’s all there, sentimentalism of both types.

However, the emotionalism of the album is never overbearing (unlike the Cure’s “Disintegration” album). Downhearted dirges like “Up Against the Wall” are followed by encouragingly hopeful songs like “Paris 2004,” preventing the listener from settling into a single mood.

The masterful balance and the appropriate lyrical and tonal shifts make this album a brilliant reflection on the emotional throes of romance and, perhaps, love.

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