Uninspired, indistinguishable indie-pop.
Is Breakin’ Point an apt name for Peter Bjorn and John’s seventh full-length release? On one hand, the Swedish indie pop trio certainly seems to be at a threshold to the later part of their career, as the album comes a decade after the group’s smash hit “Young Folks.” Alternatively, the point that the group finds themselves at seems to be less characterized by dramatic rupture or collision, but rather by a slow fade into pleasant, forgettable hooks.
The trio largely plays it safe with Breakin’ Point’s instrumentals, building a 40-minute release out of minimal dance beats and unobtrusive synths. Unfortunately, the conservative music draws the listener’s attention to the group’s lyrics, which are at best platitudinous, and at worst meaningless. In the chorus of “Do-Si-Do,” Peter Morén sings, “On your marks, do-si-do, facing your partner.” Similar mish-mashes of odd phrases and non-sequiturs are broken up only by saccharine musings on big topics.
Putting aside lyrics, Breakin’ Point’s few exciting moments come when the group takes any sort of risk, even risks that would seem pedestrian for other groups. For example, the pulsing dance beat and cutting retro synths on “What You Talking About?” alone set it off from the nearly indistinguishable mass of light, monotonous dance-pop tracks.
Perhaps the lowest point of the album, however, comes in the form of the apparently straight-faced, patronizing closer, “Pretty Dumb, Pretty Lame.” When Morén advises a stressed-out celebrity straw man, “every 9 to 5’er is stressed out for less,” it feels like little more than pandering. If only Peter Bjorn and John reflected a bit more on an idea they attack in the same song: “feed[ing] the machine that the industry drives.” In the end, Breakin’ Point plays directly into the industry machine, offering up a handful of light indie-pop with the hope that a single or two will stick.