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Ben Kweller - Ben Kweller

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Ben Kweller is the kind of singer you’d like to carry around in your pocket all day. He’d poke his head out and sing whenever you wanted and he’d have a song to fit every mood. 

This may have suited him when he fronted Radish in his teens, but these days Kweller is 25 years old and is onto his fourth solo album. So how does he still manage to look and sound 18?

The short answer is “I don’t know”. It might have had something to do with Kweller shedding his band after 2004’s On My Way and playing every instrument himself, hence the title — Ben Kweller.

It might have something to do with his ability to craft irresistable melodies around simple chord progressions. It might have something to do with those moments where you find yourself adding your own harmonies. It might also have something to do with his knack for making even the seediest of lyrics sound cute and innocent with his slightly strained and earnest vocal style.

Run, the album’s opening track, sets the agenda: Since 15 I have ran everywhere you can run/but with you it’s much more fun so let’s run. It’s as though Kweller has been on his feet since his Radish days and has finally decided to do things at his own pace.

Style-wise, Ben Kweller offers little that Freak Out, it’s Ben Kweller, Sha Sha and On My Way didn’t. It’s not rocket science: you find the formula that suits you best and you stick with it. On first listen, this record is textbook BK with a few of the creases smoothed out and a little bit more guitar. But after a few more listens, it’s clear that Kweller’s lyricism has come a long way since the asteroid that hit the earth in How it Should Be (Sha Sha) and sex reminding her of eating spaghetti in Wasted and Ready. It’s all very grown-up stuff (We pressed against back doors and wood floors) but like all the other Ben Kweller albums it’s f-u-n.

Though tracks like Penny On the Train Track, Magic and I Don’t Know Why turn your frown upside down and keep your fingers tapping along, Ben Kweller has several moments when there’s no gas left in the tank. Red Eye is a poor attempt at soul, while Until I Die would be a good song if it wasn’t just a rehash of Sha Sha’s Falling.

Nevertheless, on the vast majority of Ben Kweller BK manages to hang onto his youth while showing he’s grown up at the same time. Even if you have all the others, this one’s definitely worth buying.

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