Pete Yorn: Pete Yorn

C+

Pete Yorn

Album: Pete Yorn
Label: Vagrant

Pete Yorn is open to suggestions. 2009’s Back And Fourth saw Yorn handing much of the instrumentation over to a backing band for the first time, and he only released Break Up, his album of Serge Gainsbourg and Bridget Bardot-style duets with Scarlett Johansson, after friends pressed him into it. Now, the self-titled album he bashed out with Pixies frontman Frank Black before the recording sessions for Back And Fourth is seeing the light of day, and in spite of Black’s assertion that he was attempting to strip Yorn and his songs down to their core essences, the results feel anonymous, cycling through half a dozen different voices while displaying only fleeting glimpses of the effortless pop chops that made Yorn so inescapable a decade ago. The slight Conor Oberst catch in his throat on “Precious Stone” sounds like a holdover from his work with Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis, and “Sans Fear” sees Yorn doing his best Jeff Buckley caterwauling. “Badman” is drenched in the post-coital sweat of Black’s transgressive last album, NonStopErotik, from the title to the lyrics (“I want you on top”) to the way he upends the last word of each verse. Pete Yorn even trots out the same Flying Burrito Brothers cover of “Wheels” as NonStopErotik. Then again, even at the height of his powers, Yorn’s music was never particularly distinctive—just naggingly memorable.