Peter Bjorn and John — “Young Folks”

Released: 6.3.06

Peak: Did not chart

That slightly off-pitch whistling you hear is the easy lilt of collegiate pop in all its preciously blinkered post-adolescent glory. Where too many of their peers merely embody that sensibility, though, Peter Bjorn and John expressed its mild but undeniable pleasures with a fair bit of insight. “All we care about is talking,” their prospective lovers harmonize, celebrating that moment when you and some cute young thing conflate conversation with romantic epiphany. Such moments come during in the earliest age that you believe yourself to have a “history” (you don’t), that you are reinventing yourself (you’re not), that you two alone stand outside of the world’s cliquish jabber (maybe, just maybe…).

And yet, those impressions are no less psychologically true than countless other pop sentiments, and pretentious crushes are certainly no less powerful than any others. “Young Folks” encapsulates that experience musically as well: the rushed drumming mirrors the adrenaline spike that accompanies such an encounter, while the offhand interplay between Peter Moren’s sinus-clogged yearning and the flat Moe Tucker coo of the Concretes’ Victoria Bergsman drifts along with a forced casualness that pretends not to notice the hormonal surge underneath.

All that talk about the gap between the “young style” and the “old style” inevitably brought to mind the growing fissure between X’ers and Millennials, semi-imaginary as such generational shifts always are. Actually, Peter Bjorn and John would have more to say about maturity elsewhere: I’d direct young folks in search of a life lesson to the lyrics of “Objects of My Affection,” about how a profounder sense of self can compensate for whatever edge is lost with age. And, in fact, I bet it’s easier for old folks to recognize their former selves in “Young Folks” than it is for the song’s titular subjects.

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  • John  On October 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    After many months of enjoying this series, I’ve decided to collect all of the MP3s–or at least as many as I can find on MP3–and make a “Useful Noise ’00s” iTunes folder. I’ve put together the complete 2000 set, and I’m only the Freelance Hellraiser number (which I haven’t been able to find in MP3) and the Trick Daddy ditty (pending the arrival of a copy of “Osmosis Jones” from a dealer) and I’ll be complete with ’01. It makes for a good reminiscence soundtrack (especially when I was back in San Antonio, my duty location from December ’00-July ’03, this week), and I’m even finding a few choice cuts that I missed the first time around (“More Than A Woman”). Keep up the excellent work!

  • usefulnoise  On October 21, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Thanks John! Sounds like a cool project, though I can’t vouch for the overall quality of the OJ soundtrack.

    “Smells Like Booty” is available on The Best Bootlegs in the World Ever, which is worth checking out in its entirety.

  • Madge  On January 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

    The voice of raynliaoitt! Good to hear from you.

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