Release Date: Jun 10, 2016
Record label: Kobalt
A decade on, Peter Bjorn and John remain entirely synonymous with 'Young Folks', the 2006 single that was almost immediately awarded 'millennial anthem' status upon its inauguration on college radios worldwide. No honest discussion of the band can commence without first calling attention to that almost disgustingly catchy single. Although the invective is commonly tossed about, there aren't a lot of true 'one hit wonder' bands infiltrating record stores, and Peter Bjorn and John certainly don’t deserve such a label.
In a time of heightened genre-hybridization and a fractured pop culture mainstream, marquee pop producers are more in demand than ever, not only by superstar rock bands, pop singers and rappers, but especially by up-and-coming indie talent looking for a boost of commercial viability. After 17 years of activity, this is the approach Swedish indie band Peter Bjorn and John have taken for their latest album, Breakin’ Point, by appointing an unprecedented level of talented (and expensive) producers—including Adele’s most frequent collaborator Paul Epworth and Lana Del Rey and Eminem hitmaker Emile Haynie—to helm their upbeat, hook-driven indie pop. If this jump into high-powered, fiscally-conscious big business seems like a scary proposition to longtime fans, it shouldn’t.
It's been five years since Peter, Bjorn and John have released an album. Their last release, Gimme Some, was a galloping race of guitar-centric jams that brought out their inner garage rock. Since then, the band has kept busy working on other projects. John worked with Wild Nothing on Life of Pause and Peter dropped a solo album, Pyramiden.
Without trying, or perhaps by trying really hard, Peter Bjorn and John established themselves early on in their career as a band to count on for fun. With the whistle that never ended on 2006’s Writer’s Block, the Swedish trio paved a path for indie rock that began hiking towards the mainstream, creating a hook so airy and warm that it was hard to not sing along. But that wasn’t the only way they wiggled onto party playlists.
Breakin’ Point marks the seventh release from the much loved Swedish indie pop rock trio Peter, Bjorn and John. There's something sweetly ironic about the fact that the biggest hit of Peter, Bjorn and John’s career - the ubiquitous “Young Folks” - came from an album called Writers Block. Given that it was such a brilliantly infectious and singular pop tune, one always wondered whether they'd ever write anything as good again.
Howards’ Way. Massive mobile phones. New romantics. Yachts and champagne. Glitz, glamour and Swedish pop. Spin this little baby, and we promise you’ll be transported back 30 years to a world of pristine synths and gold lamé suits, where the future is all glass and plastic. Relive the roller ….
In the five years since their last album Gimme Some, the three members of Peter Bjorn and John were very busy. They started a record label, Ingrid, built their own studio, produced other artists, and each worked on solo projects. When they decided to get back together to make their seventh album, Breakin' Point, they turned to outside producers to help them get a slick modern pop sound.
Peter Bjorn and John's new album Breakin' Point is their first album in five years, and comes a decade after the release of their uber-catchy "Young Folks. " And yet, this is hardly a return to the minimal indie pop of their former hits; rather, it dives deep into a more lush, floral pop sound. Recorded in ABBA's former studio, the ghost of disco is found all over the record, as on the dreamy dance number "Do Si Do," where light arpeggios and strings fill the space as they sing of cafés and dancing.
An indie band’s commercial breakthrough, when and if it comes, is a tricky landmark to pass unscathed. If the follow-up doesn’t catch, the band tends to go one of three ways: They can call it quits, accepting their commercial decrepitude; wind things down over a couple of albums, continuing to tour the hits as a glorified karaoke act; or, as a last resort, enlist some decorated pop producers who will, in theory, affix makeshift wings and propel them into the stratosphere. So it is with Peter Bjorn and John, a Swedish trio inseparably wed to a pretty whistling melody from 2006, whose songwriting smarts always promised an elusive second wind.
Returning for seventh studio album Breakin' Point, Peter Bjorn and John unveil a gaudy collage of pop music platitudes. You'll remember that the group found international fame through some catchy, low-key whistling, but PB&J make no bones about this record's grander aspirations. Inspirational references to fellow countrymen ABBA litter the press release, and the band teamed with seriously big-time pop producers – ones with U2, Florence and Adele on their books.
It's been 10 years since Peter Bjorn and John released Writer's Block, their breakthrough album, which included the four-and-a-half minute pop song Young Folks, with an unforgettable whistling intro. Every new album the Swedish trio has put out since then (Breakin' Point is number four) gets discussed in the context of that one, or at worst that damn song. But can you blame us? Peter Bjorn and John have failed to capture that magic on any other record, though they do try hard here.