Monday, October 1, 2007

ripe by ben lee

Thom Yorke dances on the grave of the music industry…

… Record execs announce Soylent Green is not only full of nutrients but tastes great!

Meanwhile, on a planet far far way… Ben Lee frolics. Honestly, I’ve been holding onto this review for a while, hoping it would grow on me more than it has. I love Ben Lee. He’s charming in interviews, and the two times I’ve met him he hasn’t spit on me. Oh yeah, he makes utterly catchy and genuinely sweet music. Catch my disease? Don’t mind if I do!

Which is why it’s so painful to review Ripe, which, frankly, could have benefited from being taking off the vine a few days earlier. Ben hasn’t changed his formula. He isn’t suddenly suffering from a bout of nihilism… on the contrary; age has only sweetened the already joyful troubadour. Ripe is a gooey nugget of sweetness, a hot fudge brownie sundae melting over a hot nutella crepe. A sweet sugar buzz at first listen. But you probably won’t respect yourself in the morning.

To be fair the album has more clever moments than I originally wanted to give it credit for. Ben spends an entire song rhapsodizing about the self made man… Jay Z. The opening of “Numb” is a masterpiece of self-reflexive humor where Ben laments, “I’m in surgery/It’s an emergency/It just occurred to me/Ironically I caught a disease.” However Ben later goes on to declare, "And now their telling me/The Music Industry/ you can stay if you behave/be a good boy go to sleep." Umm… Ben dear? I think you walked into the Radiohead negotiations… your meeting is down the hall.

Then there’s Mandy Moore…humm.

So why oh why can’t I completely rip Ripe? The Rosetta stone to Ripe’s over-saturated attraction, and, by extension Ben Lee, comes in the title closing track when he sings "Your jokes got worse/each afternoon/like bacon at a barmitzvah/ like a lead balloon/and who’s to say what really/happened in that room/I was looking for a bride/you were looking for a groom."

So what is the lesson one can glean? Apparently even quasi-adult would-be hipsters are looking for the singer-songwriter next door. Blame it on a generation raised on the Backstreet Boys and actors named Cory. So...Turn down the cool factor, and remember, you aren’t honor bound to rip EVERY track into your itunes1. Sometimes, life is sweet. Take a moment, sit back, fix yourself a nutella treat of choice, pop in some Ben Lee and smile. It’s just music.

1. Key Tracks: "Love Me Like the World is Ending" "American Television" "What Would Jay-Z Do?" "Numb" and "Ripe."

mp3: "Float On (Modest Mouse Cover)" by Ben Lee

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was an interesting review! Thanks!