All bands strive to avoid the dreaded moniker of -One-Hit Wonder’ but all too often struggle to shake off the success of a single insanely-catchy hit. Swedish trio Peter, Bjorn & John made two albums before 2006’s Writer’s Block branded the whistling melody of -Young Folks’ on the mainstream’s brain, and this is their second record since.
Drawing on a wide array of influences, album number five is unafraid to let those inspirations shine through. Opening track -The Feeling’ dips into Brian Wilson, title track -Living Thing’ is unashamedly straight from Paul Simon’s Graceland (look out Vampire Weekend), -I Want You!’ enters early Stone Roses territory, and that’s never a bad place to go.
However, it’s only when they go it on their own that the potential of -Young Folks’ is fully realised. The fourth song, -Nothing To Worry About’ is Living Thing’s first single, and it’s the type of brilliant beguiling pop that pulled the spotlight towards them three years ago. Don’t be surprised if Kanye decides to sample this one too.
It’s a shame then that what remains fails to maintain the tempo of -Nothing To Worry About’. While an interesting exercise in 80s power-pop nostalgia (one of many these days), darker numbers like -I’m Losing My Mind’, -Blue Period Picasso’ and -Last Night’ (complete with Phil Collins’ -Think Twice’ drum rolls) only serve to take the fizz out. Expletive-ridden -Lay It Down’ might be an exception, but really there’s only one winner from Living Thing. Quite a winner though.