Sunday, August 9, 2009

Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend

Let’s talk about the Raconteurs for a minute. Push Jack White aside, kick two other band members to the curb, and you’ve miraculously got some of the best power pop of the decade. Brendan Benson, the Raconteurs’ forth member, consistently churns out sparkling gems of pop perfection. Although he has been disguising himself as White’s sideman for the past few years, he has been releasing solo work since 1996. Lapalco, his second – and completely underappreciated – album, is full of jangly guitars and quipping lyrics. Yet the Nashville-by way of-Michigan musician outdoes himself on My Old, Familiar Friend. A swirling string section adorns “Garbage Day,” a Motown throwback with witticisms like “if she throws her heart away/I’ll be there on garbage day.” Rodeo-style guitar bounces around the repetitive and persistent pick up attempt that underlies “Feel Like Taking You Home,” and red-hot organs pepper “A Whole Lot Better,” the firecracker that opens the album. Benson’s warm voice sizzles like a hot spring on ballads like “You Make a Fool Out of Me” and “Lesson Learned.” His self-harmonizing is sugary and sing-along friendly. My Old, Familiar Friend is a piece of pop mastery that you absolutely cannot pass up.

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