Peter Bjorn & John – Gimme Some

While I’ll readily admit that new albums sometimes make me feel weird, especially when I’m really in love with earlier work by an artist, my first impression of Gimme Some was a lot more like dealing with the five stages of grief.

At first I was in denial. The album didn’t knock my socks off right off the bat and I wasn’t ready to admit that PB&J disappointed me. Then I was angry that they went off on some scatterbrained ’80s tangent when they already had a great stylistic niche of their own. Next I bargained with myself, forcing a few more deserved listens based solely on their preexisting cred. I then became depressed with the fact that nothing on this album is as great as Writer’s Block and that PB&J decided to jump on the increasingly-tired, Caribbean-influenced bandwagon on a few tracks a la Vampire Weekend, namely the grating song “Dig a Little Deeper.”  The bongo solo and subsequent noodling on that track make me want to buy the trio a one-way ticket back to Stockholm – stat!

Then, low and behold, I reached the fifth stage of grief: acceptance. Gimme Some is not the album of the year, nor is the album of the band’s career, but I eventually accepted the fact that it’s an interesting hodgepodge that does contain a few gems. Some A&R wizard at Star Time International should get a pat on the back for deeming “Second Chance” the first single because it is by far the album’s most memorable track. It’s a punchy pop/new-wave mash-up that rollicks along with, believe it or not, some crazy cowbell. While “Second Chance” did at first make me think of the Christopher Walken SNL skit where he continuously calls for more cowbell, the chorus eventually dug a hole in my brain and took up permanent residence. There are also a few punky, power-pop tidbits on Gimme Some that are pretty impressive, like “Breaker Breaker,” “Black Book” and “Lies.” They head in a totally different direction from what I have come to expect from the trio, but they really are a rockin’ good time. The jury’s still out, though, on whether “Down Like Me”, which I originally thought was a cover, was a cast off from the 1986 soundtrack to the movie Labyrinth. Hello. Jareth the Goblin King called and wants his breathy vocals back.

That being said, it looks like my review succeeded in leaving Gimme Some right in the middle of the road, where it belongs.

Peter Bjorn & John
Gimme Some
[Star Time International]