Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Impressions: Gimme Some by Peter, Björn and John

Few albums grab me from the start. This one did. Maybe I’ll hate it after I’ve listened another 50 times – although I doubt it. Music this catchy and well crafted ought to be illegal. (Maybe it is illegal: there sure isn’t that much of it out there!)

How catchy? The Swedish threesome can take a clunky phrase like “All art has been contemporary” (in the Caribbean-flavored “Dig a Little Deeper”) and create something you’ll find yourself singing along to. Just imagine that out loud on the subway! (And what's with all the great music from Sweden lately? Is it something in the water?)

This album kicks ass from the start with a clarion call guitar figure (for a split second I thought it was “I Am a Tree” by Guided by Voices), thumping drums, and simple chanted background chorus launching “Tomorrow Has to Wait.” Much of the album continues in the same vein: hook-laden choruses, urgent and often handclap-driven percussion, strong melodies, and rapidly strummed electric guitars. Standouts include “Second Chance,” “Lies,” and “Eyes.”

One of the most impressive aspects of this release is John Eriksson’s drumming. It serves the music so well, driving the songs without overwhelming them. I’m also impressed by the sense that this group is a band. When a band’s “name” is simply the first names of the three members, you wonder about that. But these guys are locked together (unlike the sound of The Strokes’ Angles, which I reviewed last week).

At just over 37 minutes, Gimme Some continues a trend toward shorter albums I’ve noticed recently. I, for one, appreciate this trend. It’s nice to see artists exercising some discipline and thinking carefully about what they include in a release, rather than taking advantage of the many formats available to dump whatever they want out there. One result of this is that there’s absolutely no filler on this album. Every song flows logically and smoothly into one another.

Highly recommended for those who like melodic, catchy, power-pop.

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