Those who picked up last year's soundtrack to Me, Myself & Irene for its all-star selection of Steely Dan covers found a pleasant surprise in "Strange Condition," an original knockout from unknown singer-songwriter Pete Yorn that would have gone down as one of the best songs of 2000 had anyone heard it. If there's a problem with Yorn's full-length debut, musicforthemorningafter, it's that "Condition" now sounds like one of the best songs of 2001, while few of the album's remaining tracks hit so immediately or hard. Such quibbles only matter the first time through, however, and with morningafter, Yorn has crafted a set of songs designed to stand the scrutiny of one listen after another. He started out as a drummer, a trade he continues to practice here in addition to playing most of the album's other instruments. But Yorn seems to have been born into singer-songwriterdom, excelling at both halves of the equation. With a voice capable of both the fragility of Josh Rouse and the depth of Jay Farrar, he would probably command attention if he were reciting a list of Canadian prime ministers. Yorn's songwriting skills give him considerably more interesting material, however, with lyrics tinged with darkness set to ingratiating melodies and sophisticated, compelling arrangements. His debut starts about as well as an album can, with "Condition" joined by the tremendously evocative "Life On A Chain," "Just Another," and "For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is)." If the album doesn't quite sustain that momentum, it still offers its share of interesting material. Perhaps just as importantly, it spotlights an artist who shows no signs of running out of ideas or inspiration. A striking debut, musicforthemorningafter plays like the first chapter of a long and exciting career.