Peter Bjorn and John – Darker Days (Album Review)

Peter Bjorn and John – Darker Days (Album Review)

Relatively prolific, Peter Bjorn and John – one of the forerunners of the Swedish Pop scene – are back again on the forefront of the genre with a new album in tow. That is only two years after unleashing the last one!

Released on Friday, October 19, 2018, Peter Bjorn and John’s eighth album, Darker Days, immediately follows the heels of 2016’s Breakin’ Point. A labor of love, the work on the new record began at Stockholm’s Atlantis Studios where the band laid down basic tracks, settled on the album title, before completing the songs. Eleven tracks in total, let’s take a closer look at what the trio has cooked up this time around. 

It opens with the rustic and eerie, glacier instrumental drops of “Longer Nights” and then segues to the first proper song, “One for the Team.” The infectious groove and sense of melody carry on through the even more upbeat and jangly “Every Other Night.” This is then followed by the bouncy “Gut Feeling,” which exudes faint echoes of Peter Bjorn and John’s all-time fan-favorite single “Young Folks.” These two tracks will fit well onto a playlist that includes Teenage Fanclub’s “What You Do to Me” and Eggstone’s “April and May.”

An album highlight, “Living a Dream” sounds like a homage to the early ’70s Art Pop of particularly Paul McCartney when he still had Wings (“Uncle Albert”). The ensuing “Velvet Sky” is a trek farther back, to the Psychedelic Pop dabbling of bands like The Zombies (“The Way I Feel Inside”).

The angular and funky “Wrapped Around the Axle” is a slight change of pace and rhythm; it may remind the initiated of bands like Franz Ferdinand (“Take Me Out”) and Two Door Cinema Cub (“Undercover Martyn”). Two more The Beatles–Grapes of Wrath psychedelic combo dead ringers come next in the form of “Dark Ages” and the rhythmic “Sick and Tired.”

Peter Bjorn and John – who are actually Peter Morén (vocals, guitar, and harmonica), Björn Yttling (bass guitar, keyboards, and vocals), and John Eriksson (drums, percussion, and vocals) – slow down the album’s tone with the undulating, dark allure of “Silicon Valley” and finally wrap everything up with the soulful sway and dreamy dance of the pulsating and cascading Dreampop ballad “Heaven and Hell.”

While its direct predecessor showcased Peter Bjorn and John’s excursion to the fuzzy fringes of the sonic spectrum that they have been swimming in since their formation in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1999, Darker Days, on the other hand, finds them in a comforting and soothing Indie Pop predisposition. It is definitely a triumphant return to the trio’s softer and mellower yet more engaging roots. That is why CrypticRock gives Darker Days 4 out of 5 stars.

North American Tour Dates:
11.29.2018 | Brighton Music Hall | Boston, MA
11.30.2018 | Rough Trade | Brooklyn, NY
12.01.2018 | Bowery Ballroom | New York, NY
12.02.2018 | Rock & Roll Hotel | Washington, DC
12.04.2018 | Velvet Underground | Toronto, ON
12.05.2018 | Lincoln Hall | Chicago, IL
12.07.2018 | Marty’s on Newport | Sana Ana, CA
12.08.2018 | Teragram | Los Angeles, CA
12.09.2018 | Independent | San Francisco, CA

Purchase Darker Days:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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