Release Format Tracks Date Country Label Catalog# Barcode
Break Up (iTunes version) Digital Media 10 Rhino (reissue label)
Break Up CD 9 Rhino (reissue label) 8122 799242 2 081227992422
Break Up CD 9 Rhino (reissue label)
Break Up CD 9 ATCO Records R2 511166
Break Up 2×CD 9 + 6 ATCO Records 8122 79825 6 081227982560
Break Up CD 9


associated singles/EPs: Blackie’s Dead
Discogs: [info]
Wikidata: Q2617928 [info]
reviews: [info]

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While its ambition was admirable, actress Scarlett Johansson's first (released) foray into long-play recordings - her Tom Waits covers album of 2008, Anywhere I Lay My Head, recorded alongside TV on the Radio's in-demand studio-head Dave Sitek - was marred by a single, significantly pertinent shortcoming: the girl can't sing that well.

Break Up is no follow-up, featuring as it does nine original tracks penned by Johansson's not-so-new partner in musical crime (this was actually recorded back in 2006), New Jersey singer-songwriter Pete Yorn. Well, the use of 'crime' is perhaps harsh, as there's nothing too offensive about this well-crafted collection; it may be far from memorable, but there's a lightness of touch employed which stirs thoughts of another actress-meets-musician pairing, She & Him. Like M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel's Volume One of last year, Break Up treads alt-country territories without ever daring to deviate from well-established templates.

Ultimately it is Johansson's presence that knocks a few points off this album's score, if there was one down there. Blackie's Dead could be a lovely duet - featuring Yorn on fine, lovelorn form - but the actress can't carry the same weight of emotion in her flat-lining voice. It is better suited to the buzz of I Am the Cosmos, but with Yorn relegated to back-ups the song soon finds itself a victim of its own safety - with just the slightest shift of sound, the track could have been elevated from filler-standard fare to euphoric album highlight. An opportunity missed.

Overall, Break Up feels like precisely what it is: the tentative first steps of a fledgling vocalist encouraged by a workmanlike but unremarkable artist sure to benefit from the association. Its arrangements are too slight to provoke repeat plays, but occasionally charming in their directness; the lyricism is largely standard affairs-of-the-heart stuff, sometimes articulated with a real sense of sincerity but often marred by Johansson's out-of-place tonal deepness. If the girl was just a little higher, register wise, the overall impression of this collection might be greatly improved - there's simply not enough contrast.

A briefly diverting curio only, Break Up isn't worth investigation unless you're either a hardcore Yorn fan or seriously obsessed with Johansson - and if you fall into the latter category, HMV stores nationwide have been requested to hand your details over to the relevant authorities.