I remember Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” from drunken nights at former Northside club alchemize. I initially hated the song viciously. The chronic whistling that precedes each verse and the chorus made me feel like my insides were swimming is unleaded gasoline. What could be more annoying?
I heard it again the day the music died at the fledgling dance/live music spot in April of 2007. It was one of the last songs of the night and the slow deliberate whistle before the first chorus made me think of coal miners whistling on their way into a mineshaft minutes before a cave-in, the dull irony of whistling while you work, working to stave off death from hunger and boredom, and then dying anyway.
I laughed. A lot. And then I bought the album the next day.
From Stockholm, Sweden, Peter Bjorn and John are the Euro version of Peter, Paul and Mary, with two great distinctions — they have good songs and are savagely non-irritating. But their appeal rests in the fact that they sound foreign to American ears, which often expect music to change our lives or make us want to get up and break something. This is not that kind of music. P B and J are wonderfully different. They’re not alarming or crass. They’re not unnatural or abrasive sounding. They make music with a sly message. There’s nothing for you to do but listen.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)