During the recording of Swedish pop wizards Peter Morén, Björn Yttling, and John Eriksson’s latest album Breakin’ Point, after a five-year hiatus, they actually did contemplate splitting up. Instead they brought in a few gifted outside producers for the first time, listened to a lot of ABBA, and created an exquisite collection of some of the best songs they’ve written so far. Their seventh album is a bolus of vinegary sweetness appropriate for the cusp of summer.
Breakin’ Point’s twelve tracks of flawless, bright, frothy ‘80s synth-power pop belying sardonically humorous, fatalistic, romantically thwarted lyrics wouldn’t be out of place on a Squeeze, Cutting Crew, or Marshall Crenshaw album: miscommunication, disillusionment, and relationships unraveling painfully slowly, and in the case of Pretty Dumb Pretty Lame, a swipe at young self-obsessed celebrities. Peter Morén told Esquire recently, “We said that [our record] should work as a singer-songwriter album when you could sit and cry at the bar, but also go out and dance.”
The album’s first single What You Talking About? tackles disillusionment and frustration: Shining in your shadow / How could I sink this low? / Our acquaintance has been so-so / And I can’t understand where my patience has gone. Do-si-do features a long-term couple going away on holiday and discovering that, despite their exotic location and time alone, they have nothing to say to each other anymore. The metaphor used to confront this sad reality is the square dance call-out to “face your partner.”
If the band set out to make an album that sounds like a collection of singles, they have succeeded with an arsenal of irresistible, jaunty but not overpowering hooks, a variety of pop approaches, and knowing when to cut a song short. PB&J simply do not put a single step wrong on Breakin’ Point.