Spin Cycle

olms1Pete Yorn and J.D. King have banded together in The Olms to produce an album that is a bona-fide love letter to 60’s pop rock and easy summer country folk.

The collaborative approach to everything on this album makes for one of the most laid back recordings in Yorn’s wide-ranging discography.

Similar to 2009’s Break-Up album with actress/chanteuse Scarlett Johansson, Yorn shows listeners he thrives in an environment where the approach to melody is part of a shared vision.

‘On The Line,’ starts the record off with a bouncing, dance-along bass line, kaleidoscopic organ fills and a hand-clap snare.  J.D. King takes lead vocals as lyrically it tells a story of an almost stalker-like fascination with a muse.

‘Someone Else’s Girl,’ sees Yorn handling lead vocals, and is a bit more straightforward in its subject matter – unrequited love.  It’s a beautiful slice of 60’s chamber pop, replete with a harmonica solo.

King re-takes the lead on ‘Twice As Nice,’ a feel good song with Beach Boys harmonies in the chorus.  It’s a gloriously sun-drenched California countryside rambler of a tune.

‘Wanna Feel It,’ is the only track on the album penned completely by Yorn and it shows.  The song would not have been out-of-place on the album with Johansson.  It’s probably the least retro of the tracks on the record, and yet it’s still a gem that fits in with the other tunes, as the tambourine-filled song shines as it bops along.

The middle of the album takes a more subdued tone.  ‘A Bottle of Wine, Etc.’  veers in a more country-influenced direction.  King’s voice registers well with the 60’s melodies that hold all of his tunes harmonies in check.  Likewise, ‘Another Daydream,’ is a Yorn rumination accentuated by clarinet and violin that feels like a good musical idea that never truly lifts off the ground.  ‘Rise and Shine,’ is another tune that owes its origins to the Beatles musically.  I find the vocals here – which drive 85% of this record – fall flat and don’t do the music justice.

‘What Can I Do?’ reminds of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground while ‘She Said No,’ finds King singing in a completely different register and outlines an outlaw tale of murder which seems inconsistent with the rest of the good time vibes of the record.  That said, it’s a good tune with Raveonettes-like reverb plucking, banjo, and acoustic guitar working in unison ahead of a back beat.

Yorn’s turn at the mic on ‘Only One Way,’ find his disaffected vocals (the one’s we’re used to hearing on his solo albums) return as if lopes along in the albums closer.

There’s no taking away from the vibrant retro-60’s sound this album breaks out of the gates with.  At a hair under 30 minutes and 10 songs, it’s hard for the album to be over thought too much.  It’s a fun, simple listen and it evenly showcases the talents of both Pete Yorn and J.D. King – two present day songwriters who’ve truly embraced the collaborative process of writing songs and telling a story or two.

Grade: B+

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