In their hometown of Stockholm, Sweden, Peter, Bjorn and John agreed on some rules before they started recording Writer's Block – 1: Keep it simple. 2: Whatever you do, don't lose the spontaneity of the first take. 3: Never stay in the studio for more than four hours at a time. 4: Change instruments with each other as often as possible. 5: Follow your heart.
They also immersed themselves in music that they, for different reasons, felt had come alive under similar circumstances. Like Alan Vegas Jukebox Baby, the early recordings of Bronx DIY-funk ladies ESG and the consistency of John Cale's solo work on one hand and the pure pop sensibility of artists like Wreckless Eric, The Beta Band and The Langley School´s Music Project on the other, to mention just a few. These boys have an immaculate knowledge and love of music. For Peter, Björn and John these diverse influences make perfect sense. But then again, so does whistling. "Yes", says Bjorn, "there's whistling all over this album."
The track with the most whistling, "Young Folks," is quite easily the catchiest, most uniquely captivating pop song you'll hear all year. Upon its release in Europe it garnered coverage and radio play, resulting in top five placement on both Pitchfork and NME's "Top 50 Songs of the Year" lists (#5 and #2 respectively). The duet, which features the dulcet tones of former Concrete Victoria Bergsman, has bongos, shakers, a Partridge Family bass line, and a disco-esque breeziness to both the way it's played and the way it's sung. Something that sounds so effortless is bound to be discovered and loved by others; indeed, Writer's Block began to spread like a wildfire via word-of-mouth and the internet, immediately garnering praise, while "Young Folks" started turning up in clubs and parties across America and undoubtedly manifesting its destiny as a hit.
What became most apparent upon listening to Writer's Block, however, is that Peter, Bjorn and John – who played all the instruments on the album, in addition to producing it themselves – seemed to have an endless amount of infectious melodies up their collective sleeves, a non-stop barrage of sparkling choruses, each one catchier than the last. This could be considered somewhat ironic for a record called Writer's Block, but the album's title recognizes the shift in the band's sound, challenging each other to try different ways of writing and arranging from their previous two albums – hence, their rules for recording Writer's Block. In following them, and incorporating their vast knowledge and love of music to the process, they ended up with eleven perfectly crafted pop gems, every one gleaming with a melody better than the one before it. There's "Up Against the Wall" – a seamless marriage of crunching guitars, sparse drumming, woozy keyboards and a plaintive melody – followed closely by British single, "Let's Call It Off," an anthemic slice of 60's Euro pop over which you could imagine Francoise Hardy cooing. "Amsterdam" doesn't have any whistling, but it does have a keyboard that sounds like a whistle amongst languid organs, a chugging drum beat and a lover's lament, while opener "Object of My Affection" is grand tale, fitted with snare rolls and pulsing guitars swathed in fuzzy distortion, a song begging for tapping feet and sing-a-longs the nation over.
Writers Block is also notable for being the first ever release on brand new label Almost Gold Recordings, the two principals of which are Scott Rodger, who manages Arcade Fire & Bjork, and Isaac Green , who owns StarTime International.
Peter, Bjorn and John are:
Peter Moren – singing, guitars, bass, keyboard, percussion, harmonica
Bjorn Yttling – producer, bass, singing, keyboard, percussion, guitar, strings arrangements
John Eriksson - drums, singing, guitar, keyboard, percussion