PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Peter Bjorn and John: Breakin' Point

Photo: Marcus Palmqvist

With a stable of blockbuster producers in tow, Peter Bjorn and John reach indie pop nirvana on their seventh collection of upbeat, hook-driven bubblegum.


Peter Bjorn and John

Breakin' Point

Label: INGRID
US Release Date: 2016-06-10
UK Release Date: 2016-06-10
Amazon
iTunes

In a time of heightened genre-hybridization and a fractured pop culture mainstream, marquee pop producers are more in demand than ever, not only by superstar rock bands, pop singers and rappers, but especially by up-and-coming indie talent looking for a boost of commercial viability. After 17 years of activity, this is the approach Swedish indie band Peter Bjorn and John have taken for their latest album, Breakin’ Point, by appointing an unprecedented level of talented (and expensive) producers -- including Adele’s most frequent collaborator Paul Epworth and Lana Del Rey and Eminem hitmaker Emile Haynie -- to helm their upbeat, hook-driven indie pop.

If this jump into high-powered, fiscally-conscious big business seems like a scary proposition to longtime fans, it shouldn’t. Few would be as well suited to receive the pro-heavyweight-producer treatment as Peter Bjorn and John, who now have seven albums of decadent, sugar-rush pop under their belt, including something near a decade of their music as a staple on TV advertisements and college rock radio. Breakin’ Point is about as seamless as a collaboration between these two worlds could be, finding the band basking in rich arrangements and meticulously calibrated mixes to an extent they’ve never known before. By buying into these partnerships, Peter Bjorn and John have allowed themselves to draw out the effortless joys of their music for an immediate accessibility that does their style well.

“Dominos” and “Love Is What You Want” open up the album with the incessant pulse of disco rhythms and vocalist Peter Morén going after a classic ‘70s pop falsetto, immediately tailoring the band’s familiar edges to fit the more comfortable dance terrain of today’s pop landscape. “Do-Si-Do” introduces the backing of acoustic guitar for a classic Peter Bjorn and John flavor, complimented later by the tinkling piano and scuzzy drum sounds of the sparse but catchy title track. Whether aiming more conventionally or tacked to more familiar territory, Breakin’ Point is the kind of album where just a single listen could get any of the songs stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Spiritually, the record hews very closely to Peter Bjorn and John’s typical ethos with shimmering, uptempo pop grounded by melancholic lyrics. “A Long Goodbye” is the album’s most sentimental moment that finds Morén lamenting the disorientation of love and love lost (“A long goodbye / It’s all confusion and lies / Why can’t we make it short?”), while even the album’s closer, one of the record’s most sonically cheerful numbers, insists on the refrain, “People call you a star / Pretty dumb, pretty lame”. It shows that the fundamental essence of Peter Bjorn and John is sturdier than ever, even on an album with such grand pop ambitions as this.

Essentially what this means is, beyond its vastly improved production value, Breakin’ Point doesn’t quite signify the same kind of inspiring creative transformation signalled by comparable modern indie pop classics like Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob or Yeah Yeah Yeah’s It’s Blitz!; it’s exactly the kind of music Peter Bjorn and John have always revelled in, just somewhat more consistent. In terms of pop composition and recording quality, Breakin’ Point is inarguably a high point, but its considerable pleasures are unfortunately fleeting. “I’ll always see the fireworks in your eyes,” Morén calls on “Hard Sleep”, utilizing an ironically apt image to describe the beautiful, brightly-burning ephemerality of the record. It’s lovely while it lasts, but it isn’t long.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.