The Spinners

♪ Young Folks (Peter Bjorn and John, 2006) ♪

In Indie Pop, Rex Baylon, Swedish, Synthpop, Track Reviews on January 30, 2010 at 7:52 am

After releasing it in 2006, Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John would have to wait a year before “Young Folks” would eventually burrow into the ears of anyone within a 500-yard radius of a TV, radio, or computer. The infectious tune is so disarming that one may forget that before its appropriation by Consumer culture to sell designer clothes and hour-long dramas, it started out as just another catchy dance track. Not only that but also not since the days of Al Jolson and the film compositions of Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone has whistling been so integral to a song’s melodic structure. One can’t fault Peter Bjorn and John for crafting such a popular tune; and it is a bit hilarious how wary indie rock fans nowadays react to a beloved band receiving any sort of mainstream success after this hit.

Listening to “Young Folks” it becomes clear that the tune’s popularity is due in no small part to the idiosyncratic synthpop riffs and syncopated bongo rhythms that compose the track’s backbone. Moreover, the casualness of Peter Moren’s vocals and the playful coyness of Victoria Bergsman’s voice add an uncharacteristic sincerity that many pop songs lack nowadays. Instead of a turgid over-reliance on aggressive guitar riffs, Peter Bjorn and John opt to create a soft but melodically inventive soundscape. In fact, if in a thousand years’ time this tune were one of the few songs that would survive this era, it wouldn’t be such an inaccurate representation of the musical taste of our time. It’s pretentious yet undeniably playful, melodically simple but harmonically complicated, and despite being a product of a Swedish band it is just as much a love letter to New York, Chicago, London, Manila, and other hipster enclaves.

– Rex Baylon

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