“I know you’re waiting for me / I see you sitting at the bus stop waiting,” sings Pete Yorn, repetitively, on ‘Halifax’, one of the advance tracks from the New Jersey singer/songwriter's ArrangingTime. The lyrical dead ends aren't isolated. Other jarring lines are most prominent on 'Lost Weekend’ where he sings, “Straight out of the suburbia / Straight out of the basement / Had another lost weekend / Need another vacation.”
The banal imagery is a surprise if you look at his CV – he’s worked with Peter Buck and Frank Black on past albums. But mingling with rock royalty hasn't changed him from writing the most easily digestible day time radio lyrics imaginable.
In a way he’s doing completely the right thing by writing music with safe lyrics to pay the bills. His Eddie Vedder/ Ryan Adams-esque voice, coupled with softly romantic imagery will wash well with TV executives looking for music that will go down well before the watershed. Suitably, he's tried and tested in this department as he got his break with writing some of the music on the Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack back in 2000 and ArrangingTime is effortlessly full of synch opportunities. For instance, album closer, ‘This Time’, is surely an effective tear-jerker if a Hollywood star was going through a heartbreaking situation, but by itself its far less moving.
In terms of getting through to the listener's heart, the level of effects that have been added to his vocals doesn’t help the cause. The most powerful moments are where Yorn's beautiful and rugged voice are most exposed, and less concerned with sonic innovation. In particular, ‘Roses’ is a highlight as you can hear the emotion in every turn of phase. Elsewhere, ‘Walking Up’ is similarly impressive, the instrumentation takes on a bigger role than 'Roses', but it's relatively simple compared to the intense use of backing vocals on much of the album. The beautiful slide guitar and strings work emphasises his enigmatic vocal performance here.
So there are positives to be gained from this album: it's certainly the most diverse effort of his career and he's incorporated numerous styles from upbeat synth rock, pop, and folk in a much more diverse effort than his previous self titled album But since his dull lyrics get made more of a point of through repetition, they shine brighter than his well-crafted moments of introspection. There's only so many times listening to a man singing about someone waiting at a bus stop can be bearable.
4Cai Trefor's Score