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Album Review

Peter Bjorn and John, 'Living Thing'

March 30, 2009
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Indie Pop
Peter Bjorn and John Living Thing
Almost Gold
ESSENTIAL "Lay It Down"
Peter Bjorn and John play at the Paradise Rock Club on April 28.

For anyone who's had "Young Folks" careening around their cranium for the past two years, fear not - there's no whistling on "Living Thing." In fact, most of the buoyancy of Peter Bjorn and John's debut has been replaced by a relatively muted synthesized thrum, which snakes under each refrain without ever giving way to full-fledged reverie. "You just gotta lay it down," the band harmonizes on the PG-13 rant "Lay It Down," and it might as well be a mission statement. As others have noted, "Living Thing" is at heart a collection of eclectic beats, from the skittering title track to the stutter-stop snap of "Stay This Way" to the bass-heavy scrape of "4 Out of 5." The Stockholm-based trio has also piped in a good deal of lyrical gravity - another contrast to PB&J's persistently perky first album - and the best tunes have a welcome heft. "I'm a blue period Picasso stuck on the wall in the middle of a wall in Barcelona trying to figure out how to get down," runs one refrain, "because this solitude is bringing me down." The album has been streaming for free on MySpace, but do yourself a favor and buy the disc outright. This "Thing" is a keeper. (Out tomorrow)

MATTHEW SHAER

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