Review Summary: dreamin' through the daylight
Every year, it seems that a record blindsides me en route to becoming the soundtrack to my summer. Last year it was the impossibly infectious/dreamy Granduciel-core sophomore effort by Wild Pink, and this year it’s Caretakers
– Pete Yorn’s first solo album in three years and a gorgeous foray into breezy west coast guitar rock. Yorn partners with Day Wave’s Jackson Phillips for this record’s production, narrowing the tracklist from two albums worth of material. The results are simple and beautiful: dreamy vocals set to pristine acoustic picking overlaying hazy, atmospheric chords. It’s nothing experimental, but I challenge you to find a better 2019 record to simply laze out to on the beach – taking in the sounds, sights, and smells of the season.
In a lot of ways this is Yorn’s most honest effort in years. The album flows effortlessly, as he works more off of instinct than predesignation. In an exclusive interview with Apple Music
, Yorn summarized the recording experience: “It's just me and Jackson playing everything, and it's kind of the most—what's the word？—homogenous record. I've done records where I've had five different producers and I remember being like, 'This thing's all over the place.' It's just me and him pulling from a lot of the same instruments in the same room and it has kind of a consistency in that manner.” This description is fairly telling with regards to the final product – a piece that is built from the melodies first and then outward, focusing on a beautiful chorus/set of verses and then surrounding that simplistic foundation with the essences of lazy summer afternoons. It’s all very Ryan Adams-esque, and the overall quality of the songs here live up to that comparison.
is at its best when it leans right into its own clichés. The more romantic, summery, and spellbound the music is, the more successful the album becomes. ‘I Wanna Be the One’ is a glowing early example, combining all three of these things – from the thousand-diamonds-shimmering acoustics and dream pop ambience to lines like “giving up on anything else I ever wanted to do, I wanna be the one to watch you” – it’s all very warm, sunny, and poignant. The flip side of the coin is ‘Friends’, a wistful breakup ballad that swells with dejection in the chorus – featuring multilayered vocals for impact – “I know there's more to this separation…but it's cold.” In fact, more of Caretakers
is melancholic than it is upbeat or cheery, especially across the back half, with downbeat strumming and forlorn vocal melodies dominating the atmosphere. The grayscale album art, in the end, feels appropriate – yet the experience is still buoyant and lush, like a longing, summer-is-waning
daydream filled with memories of moments that have passed by all too quickly.
This style has been executed across countless artists and albums, but Pete Yorn is a cut above the rest. There’s little to separate this creatively from similar works, but the strength of the melodies, the pristine production, and the dynamic chord progressions elevate Caretakers
to a higher aesthetic level. The simplicity is both gorgeous and inviting, like a summer wave of indie-rock hypnosis. It’s the kind of album that you can sink into whether you’re laying oceanside or staring out a New York City window, watching the steam rise off the pavement while wondering where the time went. The album is inherently capped by its own simplicity in terms of its artistic reach, but it’s not designed to break new ground so much as it is to get you to slow down, look around, and take in your surroundings. Caretakers
transports you to the present – a place that we all too often skip over.