American singer-songwriter Pete Yorn has been writing music commercially for over a decade now and yet he has still eponymously been able to keep himself very much under the radar of the public gaze. After five critically-successful albums, Pete now returns for his sixth offering; one of which was amazingly all produced in five mere days in the town of Salem with his friend Frank Black of The Pixies. The album itself is a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly, all resulting in a mediocre affair.
There are definitive signs of experimentation on this record. Pete Yorn adopts a much heavier sound on this than on his previous offerings. Precious Stone, an up-tempo single, is a great start to the album, itself harbouring a highlight of the whole LP; a brilliant middle-8 guitar solo. Similarly, Velcro Shoes is a much louder rock sound, akin to the likes of Lenny Kravitz, with a quite unusual and stuttering chorus that is sweet to the ears. However, it is not only genres that he crosses. Yorn is able to put on display his husky vocals in Badman as he speaks over the track effortlessly, producing a very late 60s influenced track. The brilliantly produced minute-long instrumental as its opening is enough to get us very excited. However, whilst these are both divergent signs, they both follow suit in the Pete Yorn tradition of making music that would sound perfect as a backing track of some US drama. Paradise Cove I reeks of this as listening to it feels like you are driving down an Oceanside Californian highway; all equipped with bikini-clad girls and surfer teenage boys on their summer school break. This is not a criticism; it is exactly what Pete Yorn has always done best.
However the album is not without its faults. The second third of the record really tends to drudge along badly. Average tracks like The Chase and Always seem to drag with nothing special in tow. There is no denying of Yorn's talent but it all soon becomes a bit too much of a drone to listen to. There is nothing original or standout with these tracks, which is a shame because usually Yorn is able to prize himself for his uniqueness. Fortunately, Yorn redeems himself with tracks like Stronger Than and Wheels at the end of the album; the former containing country-western influences which feels like gliding across a gentle river on a lazy day, whilst the latter is a brilliant oxymoronic commentary about modernist consumerist culture, built upon a very stripped-down and traditional backing. This is genius music-making in process.
Pete Yorn has produced an album that is sure to go down well with die-hard fans but in reality, it is only something average. Sadly there is a stark juxtaposition of the brilliant with the poor, thus averaging out a mediocre offering; hence the fact that the whole album was produced within a week really does show here. But this will hardly falter Pete Yorn. As a brilliant talent that the US has churned out, this will certainly not be the last that we hear from him.
3 / 5