Peter Bjorn and John: Living Thing
I’ve spent a good portion of the evening catching up on Cokemachine Glow writing. Why I stopped reading, I have no idea, especially with stuff like this:
Last year’s Writer’s Block (2006) follow-up Seaside Rock was at least as lousy as Living Thing, but that record felt lousy in a “successful-pop-band’s-slapdash-holdover-that-shouldn’t-really-be-considered-canonical” sort of way, which is to say that it was somehow more excusable. As we so loved Writer’s Block—a delightful pop gem, to be sure!—that we were willing to let this flop go, willing to sweep it under their garish Swedish rug of a discography. We disliked but forgave; we were confused but accepting. Mostly confused.
And thus Living Thing is little more than a spectacular “fuck you” from the dandies, a wine-stained and nearly-illegible postcard from the tropical resort of their mainstream success. When the boys chant “Hey, shut the fuck up / You’ve already had enough,” guess what: they’re singing it to you. There’s a distinct feeling that the band is making fun of its audience, but it’s, like, what did we do to deserve it? Is it because we didn’t take them seriously enough? Is it because my Dad liked “that song with the whistling” (his words)?
We don’t know how many midnights they spent amassing this material, or what drugs they were on, or who they’ve been screwing, but one listen is enough to understand that this is a band effectively stopped in the front yard of its own latent success. Is it bad to think that a good pop band—or at least this pop band—should stick to what works?