When Pete Yorn laid his masterpiece, Musicforthemorningafter, on the unsuspecting music-buying public in 2001 it became an instant cult classic. The timing was ideal, since we had little more than Coldplay and Ryan Adams to wet a fresh whistle that Summer, but the songs were immediate favorites. All of them. What we’ve come to learn with the very accomplished new Day I Forgot, however, is that a record like Musicforthemorningafter falls from the heavens but once in a great while. Nobody could have fairly expected Yorn, or anyone, to be able to follow up near perfection two years later with another classic. But for his effort, he gave it a hell of a go this time. On the surface, Day I Forgot could be taken for the leftovers from Musicforthemorningafter sessions. Yorn is not the kind of guy to really break new ground and try to reinvent his own wheel. I mean, after all, if it ain’t broke….
So Yorn’s non-threatening guitar and similar studio backing band (again with collaborator R. Walt Vincent in his pocket) step up here and convey a new but old lot of reliable sing-a-long verses, none of which may jump out of the player during the first spin but will eventually take like a toxic venom. The creamiest of the new crop, “Come Back Home,” “Committed” and the marvelous “Crystal Village,” are straight ahead jingle-jangle rock for the masses, nothing complicated, nothing challenging. Many will think they’re listening to an Eddie Vedder solo album when playing Pete Yorn. I submit hearing his best Steve Malkmus impression on “Crystal Village” when he whimpers, “You would never have the time, I would love to change your mind, You were there and it was good in the beginning.” Variety is not one of Yorn’s strong points, although “Carlos (Don’t Let it Go to Your Head)” shakes loose a serious Lenny Kravitz-like vibe that we haven’t gotten from him before now.
In the end, Day I Forgot will pale by direct comparison to the grand Musicforthemorningafter. There is little point arguing that, song for song, this new record cannot hold its own with the 2001 debut. Day I Forgot does tend to fade during the second half, but dismissing gems like the quirky “Burrito” or subtle “Man in Uniform” would be a gross mistake. Getting back to the Springsteen comparison, I ultimately see this new effort as Yorn’s Tunnel of Love attempt at following up Born in the USA. No way, no how was he going to trump the Musicforthemorningafter ace. But nearly two decades later, Tunnel of Love stands as a pretty damned good album, don’t you think?
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