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. I've seen PB&J in concert a number of times in the last couple of years, and they've always put on a great show. I'll be seeing them again at Coachella in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait how they'll translate the songs from this album in a live setting.