Thursday, June 25, 2009
Pete Yorn album review
Back & Fourth
Last time we heard from Pete Yorn on 2006’s Nightcrawler, he was breaking out the synths right and left, harmonizing with Dixie Chicks and utilizing the drum talent of Dave Grohl. The results were pleasant, but not as memorable as the rootsy hit debut musicforthemorningafter five years prior.
Having completed a trilogy, the Jersey rocker went on a creative tear, making a duets album with Scarlett Johansson (Break Up, due in September) and a noisy Frank Black-produced effort.
For the organic Back & Fourth, he headed to Omaha to record with a band for the first time with Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) at the helm. The results are wonderful, containing some of Yorn’s most personal lyrics to date.
Emotional album opener “Don’t Wanna Cry” finds the musician in quiet, fragile vocal mode singing about a sad sack who isn’t afraid to show his sensitive side. “Paradise Cove” is breezy ’70s pop, but has a dark undercurrent about feeble summer babes (“when you talk it makes me cringe/you want so bad to have meaning/but you’re empty and draining”). Keeping on the seasonal tip, the reverb drenched “Last Summer” is totally enthralling.
The lush narrative “Social Development Dance” is about unsuccessfully searching for an old flame (“I Googled your name in quotes/got no results”) and later discovering the tragic results.
Meanwhile, “Thinking of You” is pure atmospheric splendor. The steady presence of sweet female backing vocals from Azure Ray’s Orenda Fink adds an inviting dreamy quality, while Jonny Polonsky’s ringing guitar work and former Beck/R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker helps propel everything nicely.