PETER BJORN AND JOHN with MEMORYHOUSE at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday and Saturday (September 2 and 3), doors 9 pm. $20-$25. HS, RT, SS, TM. See listing.
With its whistling refrain and dark, wistful lyrics, Foster the People's ubiquitous single Pumped Up Kicks is strikingly similar to Peter Bjorn and John's 2006 hit Young Folks.
The Swedish band certainly found their American labelmates' breakout song familiar when they heard it.
"It's pretty obvious that it does sound like our song," Björn Yttling says, speaking from Chicago as Tropical Drizzle Irene approaches his home in Manhattan. "There are a lot of [similar] elements."
He isn't, however, firing any shots.
"It's a big song for them now. But when we first came out it was a sound that was interesting at the time. People pick up on that and get influenced. Like, Drake picked up on our songs. So people listen to our music and that's cool and great and we're really flattered."
In spite of Yttling's chilled-out attitude, it has to be at least a little consternating for him, Peter Morén and John Eriksson that Foster the People have found such inspiration and success in PB&J's most recognizable song.
Maybe even more frustrating, though, is that Young Folks was catchy enough to eclipse every other song PB&J have released since. The lyrics to the first single, Second Chance, from their sixth album, Gimme Some (Cooking Vinyl), have been interpreted as a sly allusion to that fact.
Yttling plays coy.
"I don't know," he says. "It's just about making the best of a first chance. You can't wait until the second chance. You always have to figure that the next time might be too late. You can't wait for a better ride to come. Just go for it."
While their previous albums, Living Thing and Seaside Rock, found them venturing into new territories based on electronic and acoustic sounds respectively, Gimme Some is a return to the straightforwardness of their original sound.
"We've always played power pop or garage rock with interesting and weird sounds. But last time we did the layers and built new soundscapes and stuff like that," Yttling says.
"This time, all we wanted was the rock side. And listening back, the first album has a lot of power pop and rock trio stuff on that, too, so it's nothing new, but it's more focused."
The band's dry Scandinavian humour is also still in evidence. They juxtapose dark content with upbeat melodies, like on May Seem Macabre and Lies. Then there's the album cover: a grotesque severed hand with three thumbs, painted in the happiest shades of blue and pink.
"We do that a lot. Maybe it's a double layer. We pick up on the fun part, even with death. It's like Ingmar Bergman, when the Reaper comes to play chess on the beach [in The Seventh Seal]. You know, just kill him, for god's sake. You don't need to play chess. But we like that - mixing up the fun stuff with the heavier stuff."