If you like your pop rock poppy, and I mean REALLY poppy, you need not look much further than Peter Bjorn and John’s newest album, Gimme Some to get your 2011 fix. I swear, some of these songs are so saccharine, they could soundtrack a Dora the Explorer episode and no one would bat an eyelash. But it sounds fantastic. The one-two-three punch of “Tomorrow Has to Wait,” “Dig a Little Deeper” and “Second Chance” are great fun, perfectly fusing simplicity with a clear sense of melody, even though each song’s lyrical content isn’t necessary the most optimistic. “I don’t think you are sorry for what you did,” goes the first line of the album and the chorus of “Dig a Little Deeper” is “All art has been contemporary,” ostensibly a criticism of less creative artists that think they’re just as original as everyone else. Nevertheless, I guarantee the majority of Gimme Some will satiate your need for a well-executed hook. “Eyes” shines with Vampire Weekend guitars, handclaps and call-and-response harmonies, “May Seem Macabre” sounds like prime U2 and “Lies” is cutesy romance dipped in distortion. Throughout the album, PB&J admirably balance art and commerce.
It’s just when the group attempts to transcend that poppiness does Gimme Some falter. Not that a moment of Gimme Some is particularly bad, but several of its songs diverge into styles of which it is clear the group is not quite comfortable playing. “Breaker Breaker” is the album’s first track that doesn’t immediately dazzle (Thank God it’s only a minute and forty seconds long!) and “Black Box” sounds like meandering Spoon (Thank God it’s only forty seconds long!). Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty does not suit the group particularly well on “(Don’t Let Them) Cool Off” and “Down Like Me”’s emulation of The Magnetic Fields’ baroque-pop with splashes of depression (“Rest when you are dead / Like me”) is good, but a rare disruption in the album’s flow. These “bad” tracks make up less than forty percent of Gimme Some, but they drag it down enough to not have me rave about it as a whole. Regardless, though, if you like pop, you will like most if not all of Gimme Some. It’s definitely the most listenable of its kind released this year, and that’s a compliment, considering Never Say Never came out this year. You see that movie? Shit was tight.