Pop review: Peter, Bjorn and John, Scala, London

Scala, London

Having a massive initial hit that they're never able to move on from must be the ultimate frustration for a band, especially one that sets great store by pushing their creative boundaries. To judge from this gig, though, Peter, Bjorn and John refuse to be defined by Young Folks. When they play it tonight, it is only after an hour of music that sounds nothing like it, by which point it is plain that the Swedish trio have a great deal more up their sleeves than that fey little folk ditty with the whistled intro.

Björn Yttling (bass, moustache) is also a producer who has overseen Primal Scream, while Peter Morén (guitar, cravat) and John Eriksson (drums, beanie hat) have their own projects; as a band, they accommodate influences ranging from Abba to Zappa. Much of the show is steeped in lo-fi dissonance: there are clattering Syndrums, two-note bass solos and a guitar that goes squawking off in another direction entirely, with Morén's wispy vocals fading in and out. At times, it seems they are trying to alienate the audience by playing their most challenging material - one song is a freeform psych-out between guitar and drums, augmented by Morén chanting "I won't be your dog". Meanwhile, new single Nothing to Worry About features a sampled kiddie choir, amplified to sound like a circle of whiny demons.

Despite all this, PB&J are from the country that gave us Abba and Ace of Base, and they can't escape the inclination to coat things in melody. The title track of the new album, Living Thing, is almost as catchy as the ELO song of the same name, and Young Folks, sung with Anita Blay of thecocknbullkid, has the crowd in raptures - our reward for making it through the rest.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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