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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Peter Bjorn And John
Falling Out
Hidden Agenda/Parasol

From my first listen to the second album from the three Swedes known as Peter Bjorn and John, I was hooked. Displaying a wider range of influences than most of their geographic peers, the trio creates timeless pop that could've been made just about any time over the past 40 years, yet makes it all sound as fresh and vital as a spring day. Or a daisy. Or first love.

And yet, this is ostensibly an album about, as the title says, "falling out," despite a sound that seems more jolly than melancholy. Which reminds us again that, as everyone from Morrissey to Tesco Vee has previously noted, there's glass hidden in the grass and the sweetest kittens have the sharpest claws, and hence the spoken signs can signify one thing while the music connotes another.

"Far Away, By My Side" sees the band's magic carpet ride leave the launching pad, silly Speak-'N-Spell effects and all, Peter Morén's jangly guitar, synthesized horns and sweet tenor complemented by Björn Yttling's bass and Farfisa effects and John Eriksson working double time on genuine and digital drums. With at least three of the band's six feet firmly rooted in the '60s, "Money" soars into the stratosphere, guest Ellekari Larsson of The Tiny adding angelic vocals to counter Morén's pessimism, his "I love to see you crumble/ I love to see you cry" and "I know you're not the only, and I really don't care" butting heads with her refrain of "Don't leave me stiff and cold/ Don't bring me down at all."

The band's tour becomes magical and mysterious on "Big Black Coffin," a soaring epic that belies the Liverpudlian love, Yttling bringing an arsenal of old school keyboards to bear as the song builds through Morén's wistful voice and guitar, Eriksson's snappy drumming, and a pair of guest trumpeters to craft a wall of sound. Elsewhere, Yttling takes an interesting near-solo turn on "Start Making Sense," multi-tracking the orchestrations and his own voice while mixing in just a smidgen of Morén for a tune that evokes The Mamas and The Papas minus The Mamas.

The melodic, galloping bassline of standout track "It Beats Me Every Time" suggests that it's a Yttling composition, but he cedes the mic to Morén, who delivers a crackling, cracking performance, the coolness of the verses lost as he strains his way through the chorus, nearly gasping for breath through the song's wordiness and making the attempt to catalog an ex's shortcomings seem downright charming. A cover of The Concretes' "Teen Love" ups the energy quotient significantly, Swedish scenester Linus Larsson guesting and co-producing, re-imagining the quiet quirks of the original into a full-bore, tambourine-shaking rocker that finds Morén channeling the sound of the young John Lennon by way of Glenn Tilbrook.

Truth be told, nine times out of 10 an album this beholden to its influences would leave me retching, if only because my own rock canon includes scant few pre-punk bands. And yet, I dig Peter Bjorn and John's journey despite myself, appreciative of the thought and craft that went into the exquisitely paced and sequenced Falling Out, and beguiled by its many charms.

by Steve Gozdecki

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