Pete Yorn has been and will always be "sad bastard music" to Aftermath's ears. One thing that has always interested us about the forlorn tunes that seem to drip from Yorn's fingers is how big of a female audience he has.
We have quietly hypothesized that somehow women are drawn to listening to men sing plaintive and sad tales about the treacherous acts of the fairer sex. It serves to confirm what they want to believe, that not all men are unrepentant bastards who will leave you six miles down the road after you break up with them. Yorn gives you hope that somewhere out there, there is a man pining for you and lamenting what he lost, which is you.
Yorn plays that part immensely well and he has always dug into his lithe power-pop like a man possessed. What's possessing him most of the time are those three tenants of the male romantic experience: love, loss, regret. Try as we might, we cannot find one song over Yorn's four album canon that we ourselves do not empathize with. That fact is something that we cannot change, and conversely it also stops us from dismissing him as a pretty boy rocker when we think of him as a compatriot.
Opener "Precious Stone" saw its live debut last night beginning with Yorn and his six-piece band bathed in darkness on the stage. It's a snaky piece for him, with the music following in line with the rest of his sensitive catalog. The crowd invariably perked up at tracks from 2001's MTV breakthrough musicforthemorningafter, which must be a cult hit in some circles. We know people who have owned a handful of copies of that release and seem to keep losing them due to massive personal play. Songs like from that era, "Strange Condition" and "Just Another", get the biggest whoops and hollers early in the first half of the set before the band goes acoustic for two songs. Sing-along "Murray", with it's distinctive "uh uh uh uh" is probably Aftermath's favorite Yorn cut and it somehow encapsulates just it is that the man does best, which is serviceable and reliable power-pop. It's the kind of stuff that the Jonas Brothers will be making in five years once the vestigial teen girl crowd sways back towards a new batch choreographed R&B and southern harlot gremlins.
The new single "Don't Wanna Cry" from this year's Back And Forth is an awfully shattered and battered tale, wringing out aural tears over four minutes of raining chords. His dead-on cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" elicits shrugs from the so fresh and so clean crowd, with Sumner's '80s electro-balladeering not quite connecting with a good percentage of the assembly. When the circuitry is ripped off that New Order monolith and the lyrics are exposed bare, one can fully see the wordy maze that Sumner and company curated. It's perfect Yorn fodder.
Yorn and the band left us with "For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is)" with scorched earth virtuosity. The musicforthemorningafter cut is flawless live and on record and is easily his most acidic lyrical assault, which is saying something for a guy who normally treads lightly around the heady pain stuff. It's a kiss-off track in the purest sense.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.