Review of Peter Bjorn And John/Falling Out (re-issues) (Wichita) Album by Peter Bjorn And John

Hands up all those who thought Peter Bjorn And John began with last summer's ode to whistling and deadpan vocals 'Young Folks'? Well you're all wrong because the three Swedes have been making music together for a good few years now and have already released two long players worth of material in their homeland.

Peter Bjorn And John Peter Bjorn And John/Falling Out (re-issues) (Wichita) Album

Still, the fact that most people on discovered them this year means that neither record - 2002's self-titled debut or its 2004 follow-up 'Falling Out' - has seen the light of day before in Blighty, bar the odd import or crafty download via Soulseek et al, so the band's label Wichita have finally been given license to release both records over here for the first time.

For anyone who's heard 'Writer's Block' and little else, listening to 'Peter Bjorn And John' is like erasing the last five years off your life and slowly re-educating one's self with the past all over again. Learning to walk before you can run? You bet.

That's not to say there is anything wrong with the record of course - far from it in fact. If anything the songs on here sound mercurially embryonic, stripped down almost, to the point where it comes as no surprise that a lot of tracks on here were actually recorded and released in virtual demo format.

Opener 'I Don't Know What I Want Us To Do' and the delirious 'Education Circle' drop less than subtle hints at what was to follow, while the inclusion of early single 'Firing Blanks' gives another interesting sideview into the world of PB&J that conjures up visions of three-way fights for the rehearsal room stereo between Elton John, Beatles and My Bloody Valentine CDs.

Two years later, 'Falling Out' saw the light of day on small underground imprint Planekonani and the sounds here are a more beefed-up, and on the whole rockier based edge to their eponymous debut, and more's the point, a well-grounded midpoint between records 1 and 3, otherwise known as "Then" and "Now".

'Far Away, By My Side' is a more upbeat affair than anything on their previous album, and suggests that maybe 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' was on repeat play, although what also comes to the fore throughout this record is a more confident, air of richness throughout the vocal performances, particularly those of Peter Moren.

'Falling Out' also contains several numbers that are staples of the band's current live set such as 'Money' and '(I Just Wanna) See Through', and is by far the more accessible of the two albums.

Whether or not either comes close to 'Writer's Block' is open to debate, although to these ears little that was released in 2006 anywhere matched yet alone superseded it, but as a history lesson in re-tracing the steps of three of the most consistent artists of recent times, these two records are welcome additions to any burgeoning collection.

Peter Bjorn And John - 6/10
Falling Out - 7/10

Dom Gourlay

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