After a fairly prolific nine-year run, during which they released six albums, including the transitional and commercial success Writer’s Block, Peter Bjorn and John took stepped away in 2011. Nearly five years later, the trio returns with Breakin’ Point, a continuation of the group’s move into sonically expansive territory. Catchy as ever, and with a seemingly renewed focus on vocal melody, Breakin’ Point surprises, delights and never disappoints.
Although the trio found commercial success with Writer’s Block, their musical interests range broadly as evidenced by the myriad projects each musician has been involved with throughout the years. From solo albums, to extensive producing credits and other side gigs, the outside influences that each brings to the trio have helped shape and define the group’s sound over the years. The four-year span between albums this time around appears to have paid dividends. Breakin’ Point delivers tight song structures and a strong variation of sounds, rhythms and instrumental breaks.
The irrepressible and ingestible songs are still present here. The title track follows the high-return formula of a compelling beat, an instantly memorable chorus, and general head-nodding, body-moving élan. You’ll
no doubt hear the title track getting solid spins on the radio and top lists. Don’t, however, let that fool you into forgetting about the rest. We know that Peter Bjorn and John know how to write a hit song, Breakin’ Point once again proves that they are equally adept at writing a generally top-notch album.
Tracks like “A Long Goodbye” and “Hard Sleep” are examples of seamless fusion between the maddeningly excellent vocal lines and the burgeoning attention to instrumental variance present on the album. The depth of song structure here only grows more apparent as the album progresses. Bringing the trio’s taste and attention to detail to the forefront provides several examples of this maturation process. “Do Si Do” stands out as an example of the group’s ability to press together acoustic instrumentals
with irresistible, back-beat riding percussion.
The challenge with Breakin’ Point — and with most Peter Bjorn and John projects–is that they will be judged against the “hits” from years past. However, the comparisons here should not only be welcomed, but embraced. Breakin’ Point is an excellent album, top to bottom, complete with hits and nuance. Although we’ve had to wait a minute for a new project from the group, it appears our patience has paid off in spades. »
– Charles Trowbridge
*The Swedish trio visits Portland’s Revolution Hall later this summer on Aug. 28.