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Living Thing

3.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

2009 release from the Swedish trio. There was always going to be chatter as to how Peter Bjorn and John would follow up their album Writer's Block, a true pop phenomenon. Would they try to replicate their earlier success? Or go out of their way to release a willfully difficult new album? In actual fact, what they have done is a bit of both - and neither--all at the same time. Bolstered by the band's production, the first taster of the album, 'Lay it Down', was a delightfully off-kilter riposte, a jaunty flying-V in the faces of people who thought they'd had the band all figured out, with a harsh, treated vocal lifelessly intoning the threatening refrain before abruptly giving way to an anthemic, full-bodied singalong. The rest of the album walks a similar tightrope of melody and mayhem. Living Thing pulses with life, it is bursting at the seams with energy and vitality, and shot through with warmth and excitement and wonder.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 31, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia/RED
  • Run Time: 47 minutes
  • ASIN: B001QE9974
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,640 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 31, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Side A: 5 stars; Side B: 3 stars

Peter Bjorn & John sprang seemingly out of nowhere on US airwaves in Spring, 2007 with their infectious single "Young Folks", which quickly became "the" song of that season, I mean, who can ever forget the whistling chorus? The album "Writer's Block" quickly became a massive indie-hit with further poppy songs like "Amsterdam", "Let's Call It Off" and "Up Against the Wall". That album was actually released in June, 2006, and now, after a 2008 instrumental album detour ("Seaside Rock"), almost three year later comes the much anticipated proper follow-up album.

"Living Thing" (12 tracks; 47 min.) is a very, VERY different affair compared to "Writer's Block". The album can easily be divided into the old vinyl Side A and B. Side A (the first 6 tracks) represents PB&J as you have come to like and love them from "Writer's Block": the opener "The Feeling" feels like it wants to explode on you, but doesn't. "It Don't Move Me" is one of those irresitable tracks that makes you wanna just get up and dance. First single "Nothing to Worry About" is the most accessible song on here, and I myself keep playing it over and over again, call it the "Young Folks" of this album (not sure how they'll recreate this in concert without the children's chorus singing). The title track concludes Side A and is the last upbeat and hummable song of the album, just great. Then comes the B Side of the album (the last 6 tracks), in which the band takes a much darker approach, not much melody to speak of, but for "I Want You". Just moody tunes, really. Hard to pick out any highlights there, really.

In all, "Living Thing" is a departure from "Writer's Bock", for sure. I keep playing the first 6 tracks, and ignoring the last 6.
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Format: Audio CD
Swedish Alt-Folk/Pop trio Peter Bjorn and John return on their new album with a minimal sound; spare sounding beats and synths highlighting vocals and harmonies remniscent of The Beatles, Beach Boys, and even Paul Simon in places (the skeletal guitar/beats-driven ELO-sampling title track "Living thing" especially sounds like it fell off of Simon's "Graceland" CD).

Those looking for more songs like "Young folks" (with its maddeningly addictive whistle) from their superb 2006 album "Writers block" may be sorely disappointed, but what one gets here grows the more you listen. Simple but catchy songs.

"Just the past" is a gently throbbing slice of dreamy Pop. Lead-off single "Nothing to worry about" marries a menacing sounding children's chorus to clap-filled beats to great effect.

Other standouts are the haunting finger-snap filled "Stay this way", "Blue period picasso" (the first song I'm sure done from the point of view of a Picasso painting desperate to escape the walls of a gallery), "Lay it down" ("Hey, shut the f**k off" goes the chorus), and the superb droning melancholic-sounding "Last night" (my favourite).

This is one for everyone, not just the young folks.
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I enjoyed the album Gimme Some enough to check out these guys beginnings. I found only five songs that I like. It Don't Move Me and I Want You the songs I like best. I can't say buy this unless you find one at a good price as I did.
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I really like this CD from PB&J even more than "Writer's Block". I think that the tone is darker, but definitely compliments "Gimme Some". Although the sound is a bit heavier, it is by no means a drab or depressing CD, as the lyrics are not gloomy. I think that it is just another layer of personality in the band as in anyone else. It's really worth a good listen if you like this band.
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This is more a few random musings about the album than a real review. I think the whole album is infectious. Maybe it's because I like dancy electronic music that I enjoy this. I actually like this better than Writer's Block. Writer's Block was top heavy and this is consistently enjoyable the whole way through. It did take me a little while to like it similar to Passion Pit which ended up being my favorite album of the year. This is really good though, it's not mainstream sounding at all and it may not make my top 10 but it's definitely worth repeated listens. By the way, Blue Period Picasso is a fantastic song and one of my favorites of the year.
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Format: Audio CD
I rediscovered this album when I started listening to the second half of it. Be patient and you'll find that some of these tracks are very addicting. Key tracks: Blue Period Picasso, Stay This Way, It Don't Move Me, Living Thing, I Want You!, Nothing To Worry About, and Last Night. Seriously, give it a another chance all you naysayers.
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Format: Audio CD
Before I starting writing this I had to listen to some older Peter Bjorn & John to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Very little of Living Thing has anything in common with PB & J's previous albums.

Gone are the hooks and melodies I had come to expect from PB & J. Guitars are almost nowhere to be found on this album. In their place are lots of new (not necessarily good) noises, mainly drum beats and samples.

Also new with this album are some particularly lazy and uninspiring lyrics.

From "Lay it Down":

"Hey, shut the f*** up boy/You are starting to piss me off/Take your hands off that girl/You have already had enough"

Maybe they were trying to differentiate themselves from other Swedish Pop bands with this new direction. They certainly have done that, but nothing good comes of it. Living Thing in its best moments is forgettable and boring; Its worst moments are strident and irritating.

I don't think I can even recommend this album to diehard PB & J fans. Anyone who enjoyed Falling Out or Writer's Block is almost certain to be disappointed with this effort.
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