What Kind Of World
Brendan Benson has carved out something of a niche for himself as the thinking person’s neo-powerpop singer-songwriter. So following the near-flawless collection that is 2009’s My Old Familiar Friend, some may be side-swiped by this, his fifth solo outing.
Benson’s trademark lyrical self-doubt, knowing retro moves and FM-friendly production gloss all remain but there’s a sense of the foot having been taken off the gas somewhat; allowing a tide of emotional, rather than musical depth to roll in. Songs are mid-paced, preferring to meander than take flight – ‘Pretty Baby’ is positively soporific. It’s not until eight tracks in that ‘Met Your Match’ ramps up the tempo. ‘No One Else But You’ is destined to become a cornerstone but it’s buried at the end of the album when it should have been given pride of place.
Benson’s Nashville locale has plainly exerted an influence – the closing ‘On The Fence’ is a straight three-chord country ballad, its pleas of “I wanna raise a family and do the things that normal people do” sounding alarmingly heartfelt.