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Rhythm & Views

Peter Bjorn and John

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What is it about whistling that is so infectious? Were humans whistlers before we learned to speak, so whistling triggers some innate sense of communication on a primal level? Whatever the reason, the whistling on "Young Folks," the second real song on Swedish Peter Bjorn and John's Writer's Block, is the sort that sticks to your eardrums and doesn't let go. Combined with a muted '60s pop bassline, vocals reminiscent of Nico and bongo drums, "Young Folks" is one of those songs that creates a sudden and pervasive wave of adoration.

The rest of Writer's Block suffers from a gooey hipster sheen: They try the whistling thing again, although through a synthesizer, too soon with "Amsterdam," and while the hook on "Up Against the Wall" is nice in theory, I find myself zoning out after about five minutes and forgetting what the heck I'm listening to.

The glittering noises on "Paris 2004" are a tad bit precious, and Peter Moren's vocals sound like the Oasis version of the Beatles. The album does everything too right--the handclaps and steel drum on "Let's Call It Off" and the orchestral glamour of "Roll the Credits" all seem too carefully put together, and end up being just plain boring. Writer's Block is in too many ways a simulacrum of too many contemporary indie-rock bands. Sure, that whistling on "Young Folks" sticks like (ahem) PB&J to the music-hearing fibers of the brain, but will that adoration last? I suspect not.

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