It was my roommate's mix that got me thinking about Peter, Bjorn and John recently. You remember the mix. The, well, let's say "travesty" that was equal parts wonderfully hilarious (That commentary!) and horrifically bad (Taylor Swift? The Jonas Brothers?) and just so happened to include a gem from the annals of indie-rock-turned-mainstream-pop by Peter, Bjorn and John.That, readers, is what got my thinking.
I remember when Writer's Block came out. I also remember the mingled sense of disgust I felt when "Young Folks" went from being a beautiful, poppy bit of Pitchfork approved bliss to a song you hear at the grocery store, sandwiched in between Shakira and Barry Manilow. Now, don't get me wrong. "Young Folks" is great and there is no denying that but when that song and it's whistled hook his the mainstream, it assured that Peter, Bjorn and John would never receive the kind of attention their music deserved. And that... Well, that just ain't fair.
Even looking at the rest of Writer's Block, it's obvious that judging the band by "Young Folks" alone is a travesty. That's not to say that "Young Folks" is anything less than awesome because, let's face it, it wins on every level. It's a duet with whistling, a video that has heart-stealing animation, and the song has a timeless production quality that has you half thinking it might be from the '60's upon first hearing it. The majority of the band's breakthrough album, however, has a much more subdued charm ("Let's Call It Off"), one that even occasionally borders on depressing ("Poor Cow") and sometimes ambient ("All Those Expectations"). Subdued and depressing? Well, that's right up my alley! It's no wonder I like Peter, Bjorn and John. But, I must admit, it kind of bums me out that, when VH1 looks back on "One Hit Wonders of the 2000's", "Young Folks" will probably make the cut.
The Swedish trio's follow-ups to Writer's Block made much less of a splash than they deserved to, probably due to the fact that the kitschy pop that found Peter, Bjorn and John thrust into the limelight in 2006 is not what the band is about. Personally, I'm all about the sensual introspection of the band's 2009 release Living Thing and would love to one day shake my ass to "It Don't Move Me" on, you know, an actual dance floor instead of in my bedroom alone.