For Pete Yorn to make such a name for himself on his own, it’s pretty impressive despite the ratio of number of albums he’s released to number of fans he has. I hadn’t even heard about him until this record and Arranging Time is his sixth studio record, though most will probably view it as his debut. Born in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, “in the same hospital as Yankees great, Derek Jeter,” as Wikipedia feels it must point out for some reason, Yorn went on to study music at Syracuse University, where after he was signed by Columbia Records in 1999. After his debut album musicforthemorningafter went gold and placed Pete Yorn on Rollingstone‘s “10 Artists to Watch in 2001” list, Yorn’s success to truly “breakthrough” hasn’t entirely happened yet. Now that he’s signed to Capitol, Arranging Time might just be the record to set it all off.
The interesting thing about Yorn is that he uses his voice more as another instrument in his collection of sounds rather than the usual concept of lead vocals heard up front and center. Especially on “I’m Not the One,” which has kind of a Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin sound to it. Arranging Time is like a pop-The War on Drugs, but if they really liked John Mayer and other more indie singer-songwriter types likes Jose Gonzalez or Guster. I have no idea what the old genre of “Easy Listening” ever really described, but I’ve always used it to describe singer-songwriters like those above – the Jack Johnson, Alexi Murdoch, Jason Mraz types. But although Pete Yorn might be easy to listen to, it’s not always because of his music styling, it also comes down to lyrics.
While I can’t expect every singer-songwriter to be like Father John Misty (pretentious yet cheesy enough to come off as lovable), the main thing Yorn lacks is a sense of depth, which he tries to give off but mostly comes off as empty lines. In fact, I don’t think the record even really gets that great until “She Was Weird,” where it keeps a nice little comfortable and original pace until “Screaming at the Setting Sun,” a song that goes a little hard lyrically for the music that surrounds it. A good favorite comes with “I’m Not the One,” the Soft Bulletin-esque track I described above, and “Shopping Mall,” a track that has The Cure inspiration written all over it.
Nonetheless, the record is blanketed as a “commercial” release, one that I’m sure will do great with people who can’t get enough of solemn indie-pop male singer-songwriters. To me however, Yorn can get a bit too corny or pop-ier at times, but it’s one of those few occasions that the middle of the record is the best part, with the first four tracks feeling too commercially pop, but the middle is a part hopefully more people get to hear. I think it’s where Pete Yorn really finds his sound.