Critical Voices: Peter Bjorn and John, Gimme Some

March 3, 2011

In the age of iTunes, cover art is an oft-overlooked piece of an album’s appeal. This is an unfortunate casualty, because frequently cover art can offer insight about what kind of music to expect from the album’s tracks. Take, for instance, the cover of Peter Bjorn and John’s latest release, Gimme Some. It carries the image of a “funk mitten,” or a three-thumbed foam finger. This rather bizarre, colorful picture reflects the sometimes confusing pop-rock sound on the Swedish trio’s energetic but disjointed sixth album.

Gimme Some, on the whole, is intriguing—it contains an almost equal number of praiseworthy and skip-worthy tracks. The first song, “Tomorrow Has to Wait,” with its call-and-response lyrics and catchy beat, leaves the listener eager for a fun album to come. Likewise, in “Eyes,” the combination of lead singer and guitarist Peter Moren’s rich voice and rock-and-roll guitar solo makes for one of the album’s high points. The ironically titled “May Seem Macabre,” is another fun, accessibly poppy tune, but it lacks originality compared to other alternative music, and as a result is fairly unmemorable.

This unmemorable element pervades the rest of Gimme Some, as the quality soon fades, with many songs ranging from forgettable to flat-out second-rate. The album’s first single, “Second Chance,” disappoints, leaving the listener with the impression that the group has tried too hard to create a radio friendly sound, and comes off as inauthentic. “Black Book,” while only a minute-and-a-half, is similarly dishonest to PB&J’s genre, attempting to squeeze into a harder rock mold. The loud, prominent guitar overpowers the song, and the result is not a pleasant listen.

It almost seems like PB&J set out to make two albums with this single release—one characteristically good and the other irreconcilably mediocre. So despite its funky and promising cover art, the best that alternative music fans will get out of Gimme Some is a couple of individual tracks to add to their iTunes libraries.

Voice’s Choices: “Tomorrow Has to Wait,” “Eyes,” “May Seem Macabre”

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