When crust takes over the pop sandwich

Peter, Bjorn and John return with a sweet, but mediocre, album.

by Amber Schadewald

A childhood favorite, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich seems like a good idea for a quick meal. The first bites are no doubt delicious. But not long after one-half is down, the satisfaction level plummets – with a mouth full of paste, chewing becomes a chore and your taste buds beg for an alternative.

Peter, Bjorn and John
TITLE: “Writer’s Block”
LABEL: Almost Gold

More than just a lunch, PB & J are also the initials of Swedish indie-rockers Peter, Bjorn and John.

The band recently released its third album, “Writer’s Block” – an only somewhat satisfying musical concoction that leaves the listener bored by track six.

The lack of variation between songs, repetitive guitar strumming and the oompah-pah drum patterns get old fast. Keeping this disc on random will keep your finger busy pressing the skip button, trying to get to the good stuff.

Their signature single, “Young Folks,” became the big hit on the runways of New York Fashion Week, and rightfully so.

“Young Folks” is by far the album’s best tasting bite. The harmonious duet between Peter and Viktoria Bergsman is perfectly accompanied by a cheery whistling melody and maracas that will make you shake along.

The song deals with the uncertainties of a brand new relationship – the vulnerability one experiences when they put his or her heart on the table.

He asks: “If you knew my story word for word, had all of my history, would you go along with someone like me?”

She answers: “It doesn’t matter what you did, who you were hangin’ with/ We could stick around and see this night through.”

It makes “Young Folks” a headphone classic, guaranteed to make you the smiling stranger on the street.

In a departure from their first two albums, Peter, Bjorn and John (three separate people) each get a chance at lead vocal duties.

“Amsterdam” is another tasty track, featuring the distinctive vocals of Bjorn. A bit raspy and mechanical, his voice is a soothing break from the other members’ higher-pitched (and sometimes whiny) voices.

The eerie flutafone and choo-choo-train maraca beat keep the heavy-weighted sound of “Amsterdam” moving, slow and steady.

Another notable track, “The Chills,” features some organically unique percussion and the ear-catching opening lyric, “Your tongue is sharp, but I miss the taste of it.”

But the rest of the album can basically be lumped in one big bland category. Heavy on the lulling instrumentals and flavorless vocals, the other half of the disc could only go well with a full glass of Cabernet, a diary and a box of Kleenex.

Considering the pop-perfection on “Young Folks,” it’s easy to be disappointed by PB & J. Bored with the taste, the second half of the album deserves to be tossed back in the ol’ lunchbox.