Pop music is a strange thing. None of us will ever really admit to liking it...or at least most of you reading this won t admit to it...yet it is ingrained in our DNA. When we were young we weren't drawn to the dueling guitars in Television, or the prog rock freakouts of a Yes/King Crimson/Frank Zappa. We were listening to, and holy moly do I hate to say this, the Justin Biebers, the Shaun Cassidys...the HANNA F@#@ING MONTANAS of our time!
You did it.
I did it.
We ALL did it.
Hell, the first 45 I can remember buying was "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton and it wasn t because her marketable assets sold me on it I was EIGHT!! No, it was because it fit the mold for what our brains want on a base level out of music. It was short, catchy and had a beat you could dance to. It was POP. And now, in the form of Peter, Bjorn and John, it s apparently coming back.
I don t really have a history with this band. I ve listened to Writer's Block handful of times. I, like everyone on the planet, have heard the single "Young Folks" in everything from car commercials to bad romcoms (Not that I d know about that. No really, you have no proof that I would know a single thing about all the glorious romcoms that the past few years have brought us or how it s the greatest thing in the world that they're so readily available on Netflix). So there's that. But I don t think I've actually listened to a PB&J album until now.
And I gotta say...IT S NOT BAD.
Does that mean I m recommending the album? Not sure. The opening track is a winner by design, and that s what dragged me into it. Sure it sounds like some giant Irish drinking song by way of Sweden, but hey, it s sort of awesome despite itself. Gems like this are sprinkled throughout the album, which is, on the whole, mostly pleasing like good pop music should be. Add in the fact that they liberally borrow (if not outright steal) the musical stylings of everyone from The Smiths to The Sex Pistols to BIG COUNTRY (?????) and sometimes do all of this within the same song.
If you grew up in the 80 s, they are basically daring you not to like this album. In fact, the one true dud that is Track #2, "Dig A Little Deeper", only really fails because the line, "All art is contemporary. You ve got to dig a little deeper". may be the worst lyrics put on record since the last time they were recorded by some 80 s band who really, REALLY wanted to be Flock of Seagulls...and even THAT can t really ruin the song if you think about what the video that would have accompanied the track had it actually been released in the 80 s would have most likely entailed (I m thinking running through a museum, spray paint, and keytars you fill in the rest).
So really, I think Peter, Bjorn and John might have accomplished something here. They got a middle aged man to admit that he likes, no, sorta loves, a damn POP album In 2011.
What is the world coming to?