Review by LarryG|
3½ stars out of 4
Musicforthemorningafter, the first CD by Jersey native and LA
transplant Pete Yorn, is one of the best CDs of 2001. There have been
a lot of cocky folk rockers over the years. What distinguishes Yorn is
the strength of his songs. Music . . . is packed with great, easy
tunes that range from folk to straight ahead rock and are informed by
Yorn's obviously broad knowledge of the alternative and rock music of
the last twenty five years and helped by Yorn's cool, winning persona.
The songs on Musicforthemorningafter aren't particularly original.
It's easy to play name that influence with most of them(I hear the
Folgers jingle on Strange Condition and Sense). But Yorn puts his
relaxed but rocking stamp on recognizable riffs, creating very
likable, infectious songs.
Musicforthemorningafter's rockers are consistently excellent.
The mix of Brad Wood and R Walt Vincent's retro synths and Yorn's
guitar on Life On A Chain and Murray reminds me of The Who's Squeeze
Box but Yorn makes the songs distinctively his. His vocal on Life On A
Chain is cool and confident even as he sings about still feeling
chained to the wife he threw away who was "the sunshine heading my
front line." Murray, apparently about the crazy dad of the Beach Boys'
Wilson brothers, is a fun rocker with a country twang and Yorn doing
uh uh uhs like on Greg Kihn's Breakup Song. Murray sounds like a
particularly perky Jayhawks song, complete with a break for a Gary
Louris style bridge. For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is) is my favorite
song on the record. For Nancy, one of two songs Yorn did without Wood,
has a great, driving guitar line and the breathless, buoyant feel of
The Cure's Just Like Heaven. Ken Andrews, who hasn't had much success
with his own bands Failure and On, hits a homer with his playing and
production. Yorn is very charming on For Nancy trying to convince a
woman that "everything is alright" with a relationship. Black, with
Yorn's lean guitar line and Wood and Vincent's fun synth rhythms, is
like a sunny New Order song. Producer Brad Wood has produced and
played on records by many artists including Liz Phair. While not as
idiosyncratic as Phair, Yorn shares a cool confidence with Phair and
both make records with Wood that are personal and fairly minimal and
also catchy and appealing. Closet's riff reminds me of Badfinger's No
Matter What but also of the easy rock energy of Phair's Supernova.
Yorn's mellower songs are nearly as enjoyable as his rockers.
Yorn's vocals have an interesting, brooding quality. He often uses a
Vedder-like slur and has an undeniable presence. But Yorn doesn't
coast on charisma. With a simple drum machine beat and Yorn, Vincent
and Wood playing all the instruments on most songs,
Musicforthemorningafter was clearly a low budget production but the
songs are carefully constructed with layers of instruments, giving
even the quietest songs a likable, textured feeling. Vincent's
harmonica, layered over Yorn's acoustic, contributes to Strange
Condition's good, moody feel. Yorn plays vibes that add to the
melancholy as Yorn reflects after the end of a relationship on Just
Another that "we're two of a kind" yet he doesn't know "what makes you
tick." Yorn sounds a little like singer/songwriter Pete Droge,
especially on Lose You, which has a piano riff like the one on Droge's
Beautiful Girl but Yorn is generally far more appealing. Lose You,
with Yorn feeling sorry for himself("I just have to wander this world
alone"), is one of the CD's lesser songs but it has a quiet,
introspective charm. June starts with a Stephen Malkmus style spoken
intro then the drums kick in and it becomes a sturdy mid tempo song
with Yorn's piano and repeated acoustic line underlining the sad, if
enigmatic, feel of another breakup song. Sense builds nicely from a
quiet start. Yorn reaches a good, Jeff Buckleyesqe intensity as he
asks a woman "is something wrong with me?" and promises "I'll show you
things you've never seen." Yorn's cool charisma brings up the Buckley
comparison but unlike Buckley's Grace, which sometimes had more style
than substance, Yorn's debut always has strong songs to back up his
attitude. On Your Side has a good, dreamy feel. Sleep Better, about a
couple that's not doing well whether they're together or apart, is sad
and evocative. Music . . . ends well with Yorn mostly alone with his
acoustic on Simonize.
Musicforthemorningafter is a remarkakly strong, assured debut.
The 14 tracks(plus a solid bonus A Girl Like You) are all good, and
interestingly presented. The styles on Music . . . vary between folk,
rock and alternative but Yorn is always a captivating personality
making very appealing music.