The Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John derived their power from the combined forces of three talented songwriters — guitarist Peter Morén, bassist/keyboardist Björn Yttling, and drummer John Eriksson — who each sang and skillfully produced as well. The trio drew inspiration from the sounds of classic '60s Baroque pop, power pop, and new wave, but came up with a unique style that was honed over years of recording and playing live, Their early work was exciting and punky — 2005's Falling Out is where their sound came together, 2006's Writer's Block is where they hit the fringes of the mainstream propelled by the deathless indie pop anthem "Young Folks." The band stepped back a bit with darker, more artful albums like 2009's Living Thing, but still wrote hooky, bouncy modern rock songs that appealed to music supervisors for sitcoms ("Second Chance," from their 2011 album Gimme Some, serves as the theme to 2 Broke Girls) and longtime fans alike. All three members of the band had busy schedules outside the trio, but they came together regularly to craft fine modern rock albums, like 2018's Darker Days, that showcased their undimmed talents as writers, producers, and performers.
Morén and Yttling began playing in bands during their high school years, but nothing substantial happened until they moved to Stockholm and met up with Eriksson. The trio began playing shows and honing their nervy, intricate sound, then self-released the Forbidden Chords EP in 2001. After a pair of singles ("Failing and Passing" and "I Don't Know What I Want Us to Do"), the band recorded their first album in 2002 for the tiny Beat That! label. After more shows, more EPs (People They Know, 100m of Hurdles), and another single ("See Through"), the group jumped to the Planekonomi label in 2004 and released the Beats, Traps & Backgrounds EP. It was soon followed by the 2004 album Falling Out, which was picked up for American release by Hidden Agenda in late 2005. The record placed them — along with the Concretes, the Shout Out Louds (both of whom Yttling has produced records for), and the Legends — at the forefront of the sparkling wave of tuneful indie pop bands coming from Sweden.
The band's third album, Writer's Block, followed a year later and became a minor international hit, buoyed by the catchy single "Young Folks." The song's video also boosted the band's profile, gently propelling Peter Bjorn and John into a very 2000s kind of fame that culminated in them playing the tune with Kanye West at the 2007 Way Out West Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden. After completing various tours in support of Writer's Block, the band focused on other projects (including Yttling's production work and Morén's 2008 solo album, The Last Tycoon) before coming together to record and release a largely instrumental album, Seaside Rock, in the autumn of 2008. Living Thing, the band's darker, more experimental fourth full-length album, was released several months later in early 2009. In 2011, Peter Bjorn and John returned to their melodic pop roots with the decidedly more accessible Gimme Some.
After that album's release, the trio members once again went their separate way and worked on a wide variety of projects. Morén released a solo album in 2012, the Swedish-language Pyramiden; Yttling maintained his busy production career, most notably working with Chrissie Hynde and Lykke Li; and Eriksson released two albums under the name Hortlax Cobra. Inevitably, the trio regrouped and went into the studio to record its seventh album, calling in collaborators like Patrik Berger (Icona Pop, Robyn), Paul Epworth (Florence + the Machine, U2), Greg Kurstin (Sia, Adele), Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Kanye West), and Pontus Winnberg (Miike Snow) to help out. Breakin' Point was released by INGRID in June of 2016. Almost immediately the trio began working on their next album. Determined to try a different approach after the exhausting process of putting Breakin' Point together, they headed to a Stockholm studio and quickly recorded basic tracks for new batch of songs based around themes of darkness. After that, each member took control of the songs they had written, adding more instrumentation and directing the other members' contributions. The resulting album, 2018's Darker Days, was a fine return to form that showcased the power of the three members' collaborative nature. ~ Tim Sendra