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Peter Bjorn & John | Darker Days

The Swedish pop trio can't escape the light on their deeper eighth album.

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You know things are getting rough when even Peter, Bjorn and John are bummed. After all, these Swedish indie-popsters are the guys who scored their biggest hit on these shores with the optimistic whistling of their irresistible single Young Folks more than a decade ago. But that was then and this is now. On their eighth full-length the trio apparently divided their time and energies individually delving into the state of the world, relationship issues and “the shadows of the psyche.” And it shows in their lyrics — most of these songs are definitely more pessimistic and negative than usual, as titles like Dark Ages, Sick and Tired and Wrapped Around the Axle suggest. And if that isn’t obvious enough for you, check out Velvet Sky‘s refrain: “There’s a million ways to die.” Here’s the funny thing, though: If you block out the lyrics, you wouldn’t know these guys are in such a funk. Stylistically and sonically, the 11-song set marks something of a return to the band’s bouncy, energetic indie-pop ways in the wake of their electronica-influenced 2016 reinvention Breakin’ Point. Sure, there’s a little more reverb and echo saturating these tracks, which only serves to dilute the trio’s usual vibrancy and mute their typically colourful approach. But still, there’s no mistaking their gift for hooky melody and ear-catching production. And no way to mistake the irrepressible light in their darness.