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The Alternative To Love

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 July 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: V2
  • ASIN: B0007D564U
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,547 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

The Alternative to Love feels like the precisely calibrated offspring of its predecessors – brighter than Lapalco, not quite as big a sugar-rush as Mississippi. According to Brendon Benson, "It's a nice kind of blend of the two". Despite his professed allergy to singer-songwriter syndrome, Benson has been doing more acoustic gigs the past few years, which played into the songwriting process. And while the songs are mostly about love, heartbreak, and connection, the context isn't always romance – Bensons also draws on harder life experience, like being abandoned by his father, and the death of his grandfather who raised him.

Amazon.co.uk

At the beginning of "Feel Like Myself", the third track on Alternative to Love, Brendan Benson sings, "You'll be sorry the next time you see me." It's almost like he's predicting the critics, many of whom will judge this album on what it is not--namely, in the same league as his previous album, Lapalco, one of the most perfect power-pop albums ever. It was always going to be a hard act to follow, particularly as that album by no means made Benson a superstar. So you can't blame him for not trying as hard on Alternative to Love. Benson is a talented singer-songwriter, and he should be admired at the very least for never wallowing in the acoustic twaddle that marks so many of his contemporaries. His canny ear for a tune is still present, as heard on "Spit It Out", or the Phil Spector tribute that is "The Pledge" (complete with echoing drums and bells). But the tone of Alternative to Love is less playful, more introspective and occasionally more bitter than its predecessor. Judged as an example of American power-pop, it's really very good. Brendan Benson will just have to work that much harder to get out of Lapalco's shadow. --Robert Burrow

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
In a state of great expectation after the joy that was 'Lapalco' I bought this album on the back of its first single, 'Spit it out.'
And that is more or less exactly what I did. I half played it, and filed the CD in my collection under "B". (Yup, I Alphabetize my CD's. I do need to get out more, you're right..)
Quelle idiot!
Having heard, 'Cold Hands, Warm Heart' played in a recent episode of Smallville, I thought, "Hey, what a great song..must track it down." Only to discover I already had it on this album. D'oh!
Needless to say, I have since revisited this album many times and have begged the Gods of popular music for their forebearance in the face of my fickleness.
'The Alternative to Love' really is a damn fine piece of kit in its own right. Brendan Benson must surely be one of the best lyric writers on the current scene. Small wonder he's bezzie mates with Jack White and ex-Jellyfish Jason Faulkner.
I ask thee...How can you not fall in love with a bloke who puts pictures of his ginger tom cat on all his albums? More cats in music, I say!
'Feel like Myself Again' is a little slice of genius pie. A definite Monday morning motivator, I played the track on repeat 7 times in one sitting. Every time It played I felt a little bit bouncier, until at last its melody floated me - Violet Beauregarde style - all the way to work.
Larry was a pretty happy boy as we all know, but I reckon Phil Spector would give him a run for his money after hearing 'The Pledge'. Writing a song that does justice to Spector's famous 'wall of sound' is no mean feat, but Benson comes up trumps.
Like me, if at first you don't succeed with this CD try it again.
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By A Customer on 26 July 2005
Format: Audio CD
I have read a lot of reviews of this CD and almost all of them seem to say that Benson's earlier album 'Lapalco' is better. I have to disagree.
This album is power pop gold. If you are ever feeling down this CD is the answer. It is full of upbeat songs from start to finish that will make your day better. 'Feel Like Myself' is a brilliant track that delivers one of the best pop hooks of the decade. Following that great track are another two greats; the title track 'Alternative to Love' and 'The Pledge'. The latter is reminiscent of the Phil Specter production that resulted in Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds. 'What I'm looking for' is a simple song that is so good it will make you want to go out and buy all his other albums!
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Format: Audio CD
If you don't already own 'Lapalco' buy it. If you do and (rightly) love it, you won't go wrong with this. It seems that Benson is incapable of writing a duff tune and it shows once more here. His voice is as appealing as ever and the compositions are typically always fresh - and surprising in their structure; there's a 'looseness' in the songs that just feels right, yet there's a great deal of musical 'craft' to satisfy most powerpop and Beatles fans.
Production-wise this album seems a lot cleaner than 'Lapalco' (which I'm not altogether sure is a good thing) and don't be fooled by the Jack White connection: I can't stand the White Stripes and thankfully there's nothing on here that approaches the dreadful catarwauling that White and his sister typically indulge in. More tellingly is Brendan's past association with Jason Falkner which, if you know Falkner's work, bears a lot closer resemblance in terms of style and genre (note: if you like B.Benson you'll also love Falkner's stuff. In fact it might even be...better?).
So why not five stars? As another reveiwer says, this is more of a 'grower' than last time I think. That said, 'Lapalco' also took some time to weedle its way into my affections but now that it has I wouldn't hesitate to give it five stars. It's probably the same story with 'The Alternative to Love'.
Incidentally I went to see BB at the Manchester Academy the other week - pretty good ('HAL' was one of the supports and I was impressed with them too. Check them out; they've just released a debut album that's been getting good reviews. Think 'the Thrills' with more bite).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ok, so getting out of the way the fact that Benson's power-pop masterpiece 'Lapalco' was pretty much impossible to follow, 'The Alternative to Love' is a solid album in its own right, boasting some stunning songs. It kicks off in great style with 'Spit it Out', a driving, airy rocker with a killer chorus and whirling synths - in fact remarkably similar to Lapalco's opener, 'Tiny Spark', perhaps even surpassing it in terms of songwriting . Though none of the other tracks can keep the pace of the opener, there are riches to be found in 'Cold Hands (Warm Heart)', with it's pretty, McCartney-esque melody and lush, gently shuffling arrangement, emphasizing the retro pop influences present all over the record. The country-tinged title track teases for almost 2 minutes before drifting into a lovely bubblegum-folk chorus, and the sprightly 'Gold Into Straw' re-invigorates the album somewhat after a string of so-so ballads, which unfortunately dominate the middle of the album - light drifting psychedelia is OK for a few minutes, but ultimately serves to dilute Benson's irrepressible sense of melody. That said, 'The Pledge', with its cavernous, Phil Spector on steroids drums, chiming bells, and BIG, OBVIOUS CHORD CHANGES actually sidesteps cliche and ends up as welcome detour into pure 60s fetishization.

However, despite the occasional style shifts, this is not Benson's own personal 'Kid A' moment - the music is power-pop through and through, with the requisite chiming guitars, gentle palm-muting, and angelic harmonies. Such formulaic arrangements would normally fall into the abyss of ultimate blandness under most people's watch, but Benson's sturdy songwriting and attention to detail thankfully prevent this.
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