Friday, February 15, 2008
Nightcrawler - Pete Yorn
SCQ Rating: 79%
Anyone who read a rock magazine in the winter of 2001 might remember Pete Yorn. He was declared an ‘Artist to Watch’ by Rollingstone, who gave his debut ‘Musicforthemorningafter’ a four star review. He was the newest prodigy; a drummer who attained a major label contract during the last days of the old way: by performing a song before wealthy executives who by now are likely unemployed. So yes… a lot happened between 2001 and the release of Nightcrawler; the least of which likely being Yorn’s 2003 follow-up, Day I Forgot. The record displayed less variety than his ambitious debut, and perhaps as a knee-jerk response to the sophomore’s title, everyone forgot about Pete Yorn.
Three and a half years later, ‘Nightcrawler’ takes up ‘MFTMA’s confidence and delivers a collection of pop, country, semi-electronic and straight-up meat and potatoes rock. His flashiest record to date, ‘Nightcrawler’’s heavy production allows Yorn to take more risks than his first two albums combined. While notoriously difficult producer Micheal Beinhorn proves to be a trusted ally in the Yorn camp, adding his Eno-approved sheen for some new-wave electronic flourishes, it’s a polish that doesn’t come off entirely spot-free. Years in production and with no less than five producers in tow, some tunes (especially ‘Alive’ and the Warren Zevon cover ‘Splendid Isolation’) feel sonically out of place against the Beinhorn sessions, which accumulates half of the album material.
Having heard many of the B-Sides, I can’t help but daydream about how Nightcrawler would’ve sounded had it consisted exclusively of Yorn’s work with Beinhorn. Their dark pop explorations, from grumbling guitar and looming synth undertones on ‘Vampyre’ and ‘Same Thing’, could’ve unified this record into a very interesting statement.
Even though Yorn seems to have shied away from alienating anyone by recycling some old ideas, ‘Nightcrawler’ does not suffer from it. ‘For Us’ may be his best radio-ready single since ‘Crystal Village’, but any number of these cuts could’ve contended for chart status. From the Dixie Chick-backed romance of ‘The Man’ to the shoegaze-borrowed ‘How Do You Go On’, Nightcrawler (and his subsequent year and a half tour promoting it) shows that Pete Yorn isn’t content to be forgotten just yet.