You would think anyone who has already created an entire album with Scarlett Johansson would stop making music after that, because nothing would be able to top the Norah Jones-esque quality Johansson brings to the table. However, for better or for worse (the jury is still out on that one), Pete Yorn has continued to make music after Break Up, including his newest album, ArrangingTime.
ArrangingTime is a peculiar album in the sense that it has every quality needed to be amazing; it’s cohesively put together, the individual tracks are well-composed and Pete Yorn’s crooning vocals do not disappoint. But something stops this album from becoming a stellar piece, and that something seems to be the aura of gloominess that surrounds ArrangingTime in its entirety. From the album cover, tinged a shallow blue with Yorn himself looking dramatically off into the distance, to every song weighing itself down with angst, this album results in only one question:
Pete Yorn, who hurt you?
ArrangingTime begins with “love goes weak when it won’t escape / lies and broken faces” from “Summer Was A Day,” continues in the middle with “we were born to be discarded” from “Shopping Mall” and ends with “this fire’s burned out” from “This Fire.” These three songs really showcase the arc of sadness running throughout the entire album (from moderately gloomy to extremely mournful, it concludes in a mild level of despair). The songs in between fare no better; tracks like “Roses” and “Walking Up” are equally as soul-crushing in their dreariness. These songs aren’t abysmal by any means, but hearing Pete Yorn’s flat and doleful voice sing about heartbreak track after track gets to be cheerless and a bit repetitive.
Even songs with exciting and uplifting background rhythms, like “In Your Head,” “Screaming At The Setting Sun” and “Tomorrow” are shot through by the flat line of Pete Yorn’s vocals, providing an odd disconnect which echoes throughout the rest of the album. ArrangingTime is off-putting because nothing seems purposeful; the songs end up sounding sad, but they didn’t seem to be composed with the intention of melancholy. The album is aimless in the sense that there is no substance behind any of the songs. From hollow melodies to unchanging vocals, ArrangingTime has no depth or anything of importance to say.
The only songs on the album that reach any semblance of intensity and profundity are “Halifax” and “Lost Weekend.” The breezy melody showcased in “Halifax” complements the easygoing vocals, creating an airy, yet balanced track. “Lost Weekend” is ever changing — its melodies spark with variation and add a third-dimension to the song. But even “Halifax” and “Lost Weekend” pale in comparison with what Pete Yorn could have achieved with this album and has achieved in past albums.
But hey, life is a highway (of sadness), and Pete Yorn’s just trying to ride it all night long through ArrangingTime. Which isn’t a bad thing but, just like “Titanic” and any book written by Nicholas Sparks, it’s only good for shedding a few tears … and not much else.