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$25.00 – General Admission
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The secret to longevity is reinvention. Or, at least, it’s the secret to Peter Bjorn and John’s impressively long career, which has spanned nearly two decades and eight albums. Darker Days, the Swedish trio’s eighth full-length offering, is evidence of how evolution and a willingness to shift methodology can bring vast rewards. The three musicians, Peter Morén, Björn Yttling and John Eriksson, began writing almost immediately after releasing their 2016 album Breakin’ Point. That album was the result of numerous collaborations and nearly five years of effort, so the idea this time was to get less bogged down in the details.
The trio spent some time together in Stockholm’s Atlantis Studios laying down basic tracks and then separated to work on the songs individually. They agreed on the title of Darker Days, which became a starting point and the eventual central thread of the album. The idea was that each band member would be responsible for his own songs, both in the writing and the production. The band members would play on each other’s songs, at various studios around Stockholm. While the last album was grandiose in concept, this one would be composed and simple, connected by both the title and the musicians themselves.
The idea of the title indeed appears in different incarnations throughout the album, which retains the charming melodic pop sensibility of the band’s previous releases. Björn found himself focusing onrelationships and how those relationships are specifically affected by living in Sweden. “Wrapped Around the Axle,” a shimmering indie pop number, observes how two people have to untangle themselves during a breakup, asking “How do we unwrap ourselves from the messes we make?” John looked through a different sort of lens, particularly on “Heaven and Hell,” the album’s introspective closing track. The poem-like song is unlike any of PBJ’s prior numbers, offering a chain of existential snapshots.
Indeed, Darker Days feels resolutely like a Peter Bjorn and John album, although it hints at new ideas and refreshed tones. The three musicians have stayed together through thick and thin, always coming back together no matter what musical adventures they have as individuals. That history comes through in every note, even when the notes are written in separate rooms. There’s just no denying, especially as the songs on this album unfold, that PBJ have a chemistry that only comes from years of being a band, from creating and releasing numerous albums and from spending years on the road touring.
That sentiment is reflected in the album’s cover art, which depicts three broken bones coming together in a triangle. For John, that image represents how the three musicians had to dig into their past to find fossils of themselves in order to rebuild themselves from what they’ve learned. “To form that image you have to break our bones,” Björn adds. “You have to dig deep and work hard to get it together, which we have on the past few albums. It’s about a state of mind. Not death, but resurrection.”