I hated Scarlett Johansson’s Dave Sitek-produced Tom Waits covers album, Anywhere I Lay My Head. I just didn’t understand what she brought to the project—she wasn’t writing the songs, she wasn’t playing the music, and her dispassionate vocals were so buried under a thick haze of sound effects that they added virtually nothing to the nothing she’d already contributed.
As it turns out, Johansson is far better suited to the more straightforward, less experimental, alt-country-tinged electro-folk environs of this new Pete Yorn collaboration. Though the vocal effects reappear on Break Up, they provide less of a mask here, giving Johansson’s sultry voice a chance to shine. And the eight songs Yorn has written for this album are among his best—the kind of thoughtful, catchy heartache pop at which he excels. Between Yorn’s ingratiating tunes, Johansson’s harmonies and the lush, inventive production, Break Up ultimately succeeds in its ambitious goal of capturing the spirit—if not the sound—of the late-’60s musical partnership between Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot.