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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Musicforthemorningafter

Artist: Pete Yorn
Genre: Rock
Release Date: June 2001

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.



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