The drumbeat kicks in and it sounds like Shawn Mullins’ “Lullabye”. Then the guy starts singing and you realize that he’s a sad guy singing about things being alright and you wonder “Wait…is this Shawn Mullins?” Then you Google Shawn Mullins and see a recent picture and run screaming into a busy street.
Shawn Mullins now kind of looks like that one guy from Game of Thrones that was Khaleesi’s bodyguard but now just hangs around the little guy. Only scarier.
So, Pete Yorn’s music – while not actually as bad as Shawn Mullins – is a pretty good example of what a certain kind of white guy sounds like. Pop sensibilities… but tempered with a gruff and haggard mumble. Easy listening… but hey, we’ll throw some spacey effects in here to give it that lil’ ‘avant’ goose. It is, objectively, okay.
This is what the suburban dad puts on the iTunes shuffle while waiting for his kids to pile into the minivan before a trip to “the provincial paaaark, everybodyyyyyyy!” It’s got “I listened to art rock in college” written all over it, like an even safer The National.
But back up. This isn’t even all that bad. Even the circumstances of listening above (while clearly spoken of with derision by yours truly) are nothing to be embarrassed about and, frankly, are not wrong. This is competent work that just happens to ring out in an uninspired fashion. I’m not kidding myself. I know who I am and I know that if you threw a bunch of money at me or certain people I’m friends with and told us to make music for a living, we’d be shitting out work that would land in the same vague constellation as this.
And that’s why it’s good that there’s a limited amount of money in the world, everyone! It limits the number of white dudes who can sing about things being alright.