Poor Peter, Bjorn, and John. No matter how good anything they release will be after Writer's Block and their big single, Young Folks, they will always be labeled as a one-hit wonder. Gimme Some is the sixth full-length album from the Swedish indie rockers and finds them returning to the simple, pop/rock sound that got them on iPod commercials and the entire world whistling along. And while some will certainly call this album nothing more than PB&J attempting to cash in on their previous successes, Gimme Some has got enough sunshine pop tunes to keep even the toughest cynics smiling.
Starting with "Tomorrow Has To Wait", PB&J seems determined to show the world that they've got more where Writer's Block came from. The first few tracks are pure, indie bubblegum. The first track, "Tomorrow Has To Wait", has a catchy hook full of pentatonic goodness, even though the lyrics are laced with enough cliches to be a song that you might want to graduate high school to: "It's too late/But tomorrow has to wait/It's the time of your life/So tomorrow has to wait". Even still, the track is a sign that PB&J are serious about their return to fun and lightheartedness and has enough substantial hookyness to keep this one stuck in your head. Where their last album, Living Thing, featured non-traditional song structures, drum machines and synths, and general "more sophisticated than thou" experimentation, Gimme Some brings back the return of the punchy drums and singalong choruses that made Writer's Block so successful.
Their signature high-energy drumming and catchy bass groves are in full force here, proving how full their simple, three-piece band can feel, with the youthful energy of The Beach Boys with the added effect of Peter Moren's John Lennon-esque vocals. But you won't find any ballads or breaks in uptempo pop songs here. Gimme Some never lets up on the breakneck drums and hard hitting electric guitars, perhaps described most fittingly in the song "(Don't Let Them) Cool Off". But I couldn't help feeling a little overwhelmed by all the over-the-top energy of the album at points. Overall, the first half of the album, if not a bit one-dimensial, is a fun and catchy group of pop songs. Perhaps its just the obsessive attention I put on how albums flow, but most of the songs after the melodic wonder "May Seem Macabre" aren't really doing much for me. In the songs that find the band returning to some of their dirtier pop-punk roots, most notably "Black Book", the mix just feels cluttered and claustrophobic.
The problem isn't that there aren't enough hooks or big beats in Gimme Some, its just that once you get halfway through the album you begin to get the feeling that PB&J, despite their best intentions, are trying a little to hard to convince you of how fun they are. Luckily, there are enough memorable tunes here to put it above any of PB&J's more recent efforts and their return to straightforward pop rock turns out to really suits them well. A lot of these songs bubble and burst with joy and summertime bliss and I can totally seem myself returning to this one come July.
Peter Bjorn and John - Tomorrow Has To Wait