Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

Break Up

Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson - Break Up

Why would an album recorded in 2006 see the light of day three long years after completion? Perhaps because the concept—moony singer-songwriter records intimate series of duets with Page 1 starlet—is a marketing-ploy “homage,” with Yorn standing in for Serge Gainsbourg and casting Johansson in the Brigitte Bardot role (the two released a pair of albums in the late ’60s). Could it be that while Yorn’s star hasn’t risen quite as high as either his soundtrack work or 2001 single “Life on a Chain” promised, his partner has never shined brighter? Or has Yorn realized the project can never be more than what it is: an informal, minimal-effort, potential-cash-cow demo?

The Details

Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson
Two stars
Beyond the Weekly
Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

ScarJo’s foray into gritty Tom Waits covers was a ballsy one. By contrast, Break Up is a decidedly neutered, lo-fi affair reflecting the three lackadaisical afternoons during which it was committed to tape. A sunny haze permeates the nine slight cuts, muting further the already subtle extremes between the upbeat “Blackie’s Dead,” country-ish stomper “I Don’t Know What to Do” and despondent closer “Someday.” Not even a cover of ex-Big Star man Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos” can escape the rootsy, vaguely electro-manipulated, mom-rock net.

Not terrible; it’s just that the far more obvious comparison—that of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him—arrived first—and better.


Julie Seabaugh

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Previous Discussion:

  • At this point, the only constant from album to album is the band’s dedication to ambition.

  • Bassist Nate Brenner partners with leader Merrill Garbus for an approachable and dancey record.

  • “This record has very little insecurity. It was a blast to make, and it’s really fun to play live.”

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