To define Pete Yorn’s career to date as unconventional would be a ridiculous exercise in understatement. The Syracuse grad moved to L.A. in the late ’90s, made a name for himself at Cafe Largo, signed a deal with Columbia and wound up scoring the Farrelly brothers’ film Me, Myself and Irene
before his first album, 2001’s gold-selling musicforthemorningafter. Since then, Yorn’s studio albums have been consistent sellers and acclaimed on year-end lists, he’s recorded two live albums (not to mention the 34 live acoustic EPs he released in 2006, recorded at music stores around the country), and last year Yorn released a pair of studio albums, his own Back and Fourth, which cracked the Top 40, and Break Up, his amazing collaboration with Scarlett Johansson. And that’s the Reader’s Digest condensed version.
Yorn’s latest album, his eponymous debut for Vagrant, could hardly be considered an encore. After finishing Break Up with Johansson in 2008, Yorn started working on Back and Fourth, but in the middle of those sessions he took five days off to fly to Salem, Ore., to record a handful of songs with Pixies frontman Frank Black at Black’s behest. Yorn’s stated goal on Back and Fourth
was to Rock out substantially harder than 2006’s dark Nightcrawler, so Pete Yorn follows a similar manifesto, a sonic direction made even more pointed by Black’s presence.
On his fifth full-length, Yorn channels his inner Paul Westerberg (“Velcro Shoes”), Ryan Adams (“Precious Stone”) and, yes, Pixies (just about everything else) with wild abandon and a raggedly raw energy (Yorn contracted the flu two days into the impossibly short session). Like Back and Fourth, Pete Yorn is a lyrical examination of dreams deferred or altered to suit the new realities of adulthood, relationships and the backward glance that comes with growing up and moving on. Most importantly, Yorn and Black have stripped these songs to their lyrical and musical essentials, making them irresistible in their raucous simplicity.
With very little time and almost Herculean effort, Yorn chalks up another Album of the Year candidate.