Pete Yorn – Nightcrawler

Pete Yorn

Versatility is a difficult thing. Some people excel while others struggle, not because they are bad artists but because the very idea goes against what makes them who they are. These people shouldn’t be scorned but rather encouraged to grow within their environment, even if it may seem limited to some. Not everyone can seamlessly blend multiple styles and create endless amounts of unique material and that’s ok.

After two albums, Pete Yorn is no newbie to the music scene however he seems to be experiencing some artistic confusion with his latest effort. With everything from country-tinged ballads to 80’s style synth pop, Nightcrawler stretches Yorn’s limits as an artist and crosses the line in a few places.

Starting off the album nicely with slow-building “Vampyre”, Yorn’s soft vocals float shakily over a repetitive guitar rhythm before exploding under a Muse-like yell. With lyrics about breaking legs and stakes through hearts he shows a bit of a darker side. He follows with one of my album favorites, “For Us”, a radio-friendly pop rock display, in with guest Dave Grohl on drums. The style blends that of today’s Foo Fighters and yesterday’s Tom Petty both in music and vocal styles. This easily accessible style works well for Yorn.

Among new releases, the album features “Undercover” from the 2002 Spider Man Soundtrack as well as “Splendid Isolation” from Enjoy Every Sandwhich: The Songs of Warren Zevon, a tribute album released in 2004. Although neither of these tracks add much to the album, they are likely welcome additions to those fans that prefer the more pop side to Yorn’s music.

Displaying his attempt at breaking out of his box, Yorn trades his guitar for synths and follows in the footsteps of bands like The Kinks for a bit of an 80’s trip with “Georgie Boy”. Surprisingly enough, this does not work for him. In fact, it proves that he should stick to what he does best; guitar-laden pop tunes with well-defined melodies and a bit of a country twist.

“Broken Bottle” and “Ice Age” are perfect examples of Yorn at his best. The first begins with a piano melody over light drums and guitar strumming that blends nicely with the dusty soft vocals characteristic of the artist. The latter is a sentimental ballad with finger picking over soft piano and string enhancements. And to further prove where the artist’s talent lies, “The Man” takes him one step further into the alt country genre with a beautifully crafted song featureing two of the Dixie Chicks. Their voices blend so sweetly, it begs for future collaborations.

While Nightcrawler is far from a bad album, it does display some confusion as Yorn tries to display his versatility. In going through the motions of experimentation, there is a lack of personality that creeps up throughout the album. Pete Yorn is one of those artists who has skill when it comes to nicely crafted pop tunes but should always keep a guitar handy and learn to love his box.