There’s something noble about an artist who is unbeholden to current music trends. Take Pete Yorn as an example. The once-prolific 41-year-old troubadour has returned with ArrangingTime, his first album in six years, and if the music is any indication, he’s been locked in a cryonic chamber with Ted Williams since 2010. ArrangingTime‘s dozen songs epitomize the singer-songwriter sound of the iPod Mini years, as if Danger Mouse went into the studio to create Wilco Lite songs for Gap ads. And that’s not a bad thing when the writing is as strong as Yorn’s.
ArrangingTime‘s mellow pop-rock sticks to a winning formula: looping acoustic guitars, bubbly keyboards, and Yorn’s inviting croon. He knows how to carry a melody and adorn it just enough to keep things interesting — give credit to R. Walt Vincent, who produced Yorn’s earliest records and returns here.
ArrangingTime is the opposite of quirky: propulsive cuts like “Summer Was a Day” and “Lost Weekend” sound refreshingly back-to-basics, like rediscovering a long-forgotten Jackson Browne record. “Screaming at the Setting” resembles a lost My Morning Jacket rarity and “She Was Weird” is the M.O.R. take on Radiohead’s “High and Dry” you never knew you wanted. While Yorn’s simplicity hinders unobjectionable but unremarkable ballads like “Shopping Mall,” he rarely plays the weepy balladeer on ArrangingTime and keeps momentum relatively strong throughout.