Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Break Up"- Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson


"Break Up" is a bright, peppy, poppy, infectuous, lo-fi at times, pristine at times, album. Ignore the negative connotations of break ups when you read the album title; this record's potentially (and stereotypically) somber tones are masked with simplistic, acoustic laced, electric guitar crunched melodies. "Break Up", is a sensible pop record with the same amorous innocence as The Beatles, full of toe tapping, whistling wonder.

Considering that it's a break up album, it has the potential to be incredible. If anything, this record is a vehicle for Pete Yorn to show his musical prowess. None of the 28 minutes (9 songs) feels wasted. They fill every second with a hook, an cute boy/girl duet, a punchy chorus, slick electric guitar lines, or some other aural must for a record of this caliber. Being that it's only 28 minutes, after you listen to the whole record, you feel like it's missing something, but I feel that it would get redundant if they would've expanded it to a 11 or 12 track album.

Although there are only 9 tracks, there is a definitive side 1/side 2 difference. From the opener to "Blackie's Dead", the tracks are peppy, confident, and triumphant. From the distant guitars, dark side of the break up of "I am the Cosmos" to the closer, the songs are thoughtful, slower, and a little less conventional, which shows their strength by pulling off steel guitars, wah-wahs, and fuzzy basses. A credit to the production.

"Relator", is a confident, quick, and upbeat opener. Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson's amorous back and forth is met with a choir of overdriven guitar licks, and strings. Yorn's flowing, spacey acoustic guitar is a constant throughout the mix, and I feel that it adds to the lo-fi meets magnificent arrangements take on this album. The Rickenbacker bass acts like a heartbeat for the romantic second guessing of "I Dunno What to Do". The banjo and piano flirt amidst chamber strings in the triumphant climax of the song. A shift in tone, "Blackie's Dead" has a little bit of alt-country steel guitar. This gives them a sort of Johnny and June edge. A drum machine reminiscent of The Strokes' "Is This It?" is present in "Shampoo", accompanied by a fuzzy bass. "Clean" and "Someday" are the desire for the clarity or closure that you'll never get out of a break up, but have fun wah wah-ing.

Fuzzy bass lines ride along strings, banjos flirt with pianos, there's a lot of great instrumentation on this album. Pete Yorn's guitar licks range from Joe Satriani-esque to John Mayer on "Continuum", and puts Yorn with the best of them. Pete Yorn's voice is indifferent, cool, and sly; whereas Scarlett's is sweet, passionate, and endearing.

Key Tracks: "Wear and Tear", "I Don't Know what to Do"

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