Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson: Break Up (Atco/Rhino) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson

Break Up


Oct 07, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It's a little insulting to describe a Scarlett Johansson record in movie terms, since by all accounts, she takes the whole thing very seriously. However, Break Up, her second record, feels as pat as a bad romantic comedy, with Yorn miscast as one of the leads. Over the course of a record, which one is loath to call a "concept album" because the ending of a relationship isn't so much a concept as a constant in music, Johansson and Yorn accentuate their odd pairing, and don't ever live up to the potential displayed in the rollicking opener "Relator."

Johansson owns a big, brassy voice, which she sometimes pinches to sound like a throwback to older vocal styles (much in the same way Zooey Deschanel does). Yorn too often gives in to his desire to affect his voice, which, in its natural state, is charmingly plain. On Break Up, he indulges this impulse again and again, leaving his thin and somewhat squeaky voice at odds with Johansson's booming and enunciated parts. Together, they sound like two people playing roles, which, clearly, they are. Unfortunately, this romance offers little in the way of chemistry. (

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