A catchy song can cast a long shadow, said Dan Cairns in the London Times. Back in 2006, Peter Bjorn and John’s relentlessly upbeat “Young Folks” got skinny-legged hipsters and NPR nerds whistling along. Three years on, the song’s shadow “seems to be lengthening rather than fading.” On Living Thing, the band becomes “engaged in an endless attempt” to recapture the “musical simplicity” and infectious pop precision of that one hit.
While Writer’s Block swayed with pretty, wistful melodies, Living Thing is “skittering” synth-pop built on beats, said Matthew Shaer in The Boston Globe. Peter Bjorn and John have also replaced the music’s perkiness with a dark, “relatively muted synthesized thrum.” But their innate pop sensibility still shines through. From the “robot riffs” of “It Don’t Move Me” to the electro-twang of the title song, these Swedes prove that a good hook can translate into many styles.