Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson, 'Break Up' (Atco/Rhino)

5
Break Up
Critical Mass
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by Sean Fennessey

No longer awash in the sonic gloop of her misguided Tom Waits reappraisal Anywhere I Lay My Head, Scarlett Johansson finally sounds as she should: husky, hearty, jazzy. Like a pinup Peggy Lee. Unfortunately, this "duets" album -- recorded in '06 -- isn't her show. Instead, Yorn, after a bad breakup, recorded eight sad-bastard originals (plus the gorgeous Chris Bell cover "I Am the Cosmos") and cast the actress as Bardot to his Gainsbourg. But these AM radio throwbacks are no match for the Franco-pop king, and Yorn -- who's struggled to match his affecting 2001 debut, Musicforthemorningafter -- oughta know better.

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