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Peter, Bjorn and John - Darker Days (Album Review)

Monday, 05 November 2018 Written by Milly McMahon

Photo: Johan Bergmark

Living a Dream, the fifth track on Peter, Bjorn and John’s eighth album, shimmers brilliantly. It is perhaps the finest piece of music the band has put together and a neat encapsulation of the charms hidden within ‘Darker Days’, which also stacks up as their most accomplished and expansive body of work to date.

Nostalgia, vintage tones and a sense of romance distinguish this LP from previous releases, while remaining true to the band's trademark strengths. Their singsong vocals remain as catchy as ever, with signature guitar riffs and choruses building to sweet crescendos, while they each put their own spin on the darkness of the title.

But a sense of confidence resonates like never before from this latest creative endeavour, which found the trio splitting songwriting duties three ways before convening in the studio to play on each other’s compositions.

And, almost 20 years since the Stockholm natives first came together to write and play, their capabilities have matured nicely. Here they explore an orchestral feast of folky lullabies and ‘70s pop rich in imagery and strong emotional narratives.

There are echoes of the band’s influences and contemporaries - notably the Beach Boys and the Shins - while the eight-minute long Heaven and Hell nods graciously towards their biggest hit: Young Folks. A slower, more subdued reworking of that youthful number, the muted melancholy tangible in the band’s early work is illuminated by an intensity that complements each voice and its understated rhythmic ebb and flow.

Peter, Bjorn and John have been imitated with inferior effect over the years. Their formula may appear uncomplicated, but the trio’s expert delivery is uncompromising within watertight, intuitive compositions. Each beat perfect, and drenched in sunshine, 'Darker Days' demonstrates exactly why.

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