People who bought Writer’s Block, the third LP from Swedish trio Peter Bjorn And John, on the basis of the hit single “Young Folks” were likely confounded by the album as a whole, with its eclectic mix of wall-of-sound folk-pop and noisy vamps. “Young Folks” fans will likely be even more baffled by the new PB&J album, Living Thing. It holds to a more unified sound, but one that’s dark and brittle, with little of the band’s prior sunny spirit. Taking a cue from the new album’s title, Peter Bjorn And John now seem to be treating music as an organism that can be crossbred, deformed, and forced to mutate. The results are evident in songs like “Just The Past,” which sounds like an android version of Robyn Hitchcock, or “Nothing To Worry About,” which fuses together a cutesy children’s choir, Thompson Twins rhythms, and John Lennon-esque vocals and lyrics. The album clunks at times and is too goofy at others, but it bears some resemblance to the admirably tricky, moody follow-up to Gnarls Barkley’s big breakthrough. Living Thing is a quirky, cranky little beast, determined to defy expectations.
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