This blog post, however, was meant to be written in a positive tone. I just got sidetracked a little. Brendan Benson is (excuse my language) Jack White's bitch-sideman in The Raconteurs. Maybe it got him more notoriety or notice or something. I hope it did. But he's been playing the understated antihero for a couple years now, and I'm sick of it.
Brendan Benson has crafted some of the past 10 years' best pop songs. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I truly believe it. He is that hidden gem that I occasionally forget about, only to crawl back in the end.
His sophomore album, Lapalco, was released in 2002. It is a lost treasure of sorts. Not a bad song in the bunch, the album moves like a shiny red Cadillac on sunny day. "Tiny Spark," "Good to Me," "Pleasure Seeker" - these are all songs that for me are symbolic of the bliss of finishing high school. Upbeat, catchy, sweet sweet power pop. It doesn't get any poppier. I'm totally ok with that. Get me in the right kind of sentimental mood, and the album's one tragic love song, "Metarie," has me in tears almost simultaneously. It's lo-fi and it's gorgeous.
I probably peed in my pants back in 2005 when I heard he was coming out with The Alternative to Love. The album was average at best. A disappointment. Similar to my feelings about the Raconteurs.
But now Brendan is back, and he is BETTER THAN EVER. My Old, Familiar Friend takes me back to Lapalco days. I'll be coming out with a more thorough review for Scene, but in the meantime, can I gush?? This is my ideal album. It's hook-filled and has touches of Motown glory. There is spastic organ (a la my favorite Athens band, Wheels on Fire) and majestic string arrangements. The lyrics are perfect - "I fell in love with you, and out of love with you, and back in love with you - all in the same day."
Benson, you are my prince. Thank you for coming back around.