on 23 April 2012
It's a mystery to me why Brendan Benson is not better known and more commercially successful. He has been creating great music since the late nineties, but despite critical acclaim he never seems to quite breakthrough to the "mainstream".
I first discovered his work through The Raconteurs, a band that he co-fronted with Jack White. Although all the song-writing credits were given to "Benson/White" and the vocals and guitars were shared equally between the two, the media and general public focussed on Jack at Brendan's expense, clearly not appreciating his input into that band.
Anyway, back to this latest offering: it's a great album from start to finish. After the slightly disappointing "My Old, Familiar Friend" from 2009, Brendan is back to what he does best: writing, singing, playing and self-producing 70's-infused, guitar-based rock/pop songs.
And the songs are the key. He knows how to write great songs with catchy melodies that after 2 or 3 listens become embeddded in your subconciousness (like Paul McCartney at his best), ready to pop out again at any moment.
"What Kind of World" is a perfect opener with the lines "You take me apart before I can start", "so looked over, so under-rated", he seems to be wondering about the injustices of being passed over by the music business.
"Bad for Me" has a delicate piano opening and soaring choruses, and lyrics about a propensity to enter into bad relationships.
"Light of Day" seems to be a vampire song, but I'm sure I hear a bass line from a much earlier song "Left and Right" in there.
"Pretty Baby" features vocals from the country singer, Ashley Monroe. Brendan's and Ashley's voices a beautifully matched on this atmospheric tale of a girlfriend on the run from the law with deadly consequences - "Got a hole in my head 'cause of you".
"Here in the Deadlights" started as a Raconteurs' song and Jack White has stated he doesn't know why it never made it onto "Consolers of the Lonely" or even as a Raconteurs' single release. Very rocky.
"No One Else but You" starts off sounding like it's set in Hawaii and then turns into a Wings-type piece. A feel-good tune.
Every song is enjoyable, the singing and playing perfect and the production spot-on.
If you're wondering whether good music is still being created - the answer is "Yes". Just treat yourself to this album.