What Kind Of World
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2012 release, the fifth solo album from the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known as a member of The Raconteurs (with Jack White). The album was recorded at Welcome To 1979 Studios in Nashville, TN and was recorded entirely in analog.
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What you'll find here is a different Brendan Benson who still writes the same kind of music. The lyrics are more personal and the music is a bit more dark and atmospheric, but the strong melodic style is unmistakably BB. This is a welcome change, as it mixes things up without forgetting what got him noticed in the first place.
It's a bit of a bumpy road though. Some songs really stand out, and some unfortunately feel tacked on as filler (only a couple of these). Lots of albums have good and bad songs, it's very common, but what makes What Kind of World sadly unique is the amount of songs that have huge potential that never seem to really take off. "Light of Day" has an A+ chorus that's unfortunately surrounded by verses that pale in comparison. "Happy Most of the Time" has a killer melody that suffers from lack of musical variation in the performance. Too many of these songs are "almost" classics, and it's a shame.
All this being said, this is still an album worth checking out. There are some great songs here. Just beware that for every song like "What Kind of World" or "Here in the Deadlights", you might come across something a bit more uninspired like "Come On." It's a bit uneven and not quite perfect, but a decent melodic rock album nonetheless.
I welcome the musical changes on this record with open arms, hoping that BB might find a masterpiece within himself next time. He's done it before (Lapalco), here's to hoping he can do it again.
better than usual singer/songwriter indie pop/rock that moves from guitar driven roots rock to
mid-tempo ballads augmented by a horn section to catchy hooks of pure power pop, and odd
combinations of tribal drums with keyboards & strings. Contributions from members of the
Posies, Loudermilk, Pistol Annies, Young Hines. Recalls artists like Jonathan Coulton, Nada
Surf, Fountains Of Wayne, Ben Kweller, Matthew Sweet, the Pernice Brothers. Feels like a bit
of a sleeper that at first seems like nothing special, then slowly creeps up on you.
Benson presents to the listener a dozen top-quality songs that, after my fifth or sixth listen to the album, will be gracing my ears for years to come. The album clocks in at around 40 minutes of music, which is nearly the exact length as his 2009 release "My Old Familiar Friend" (which is, not to devalue "What Kind of World," Benson's best album). Standout tracks include the title track "What Kind of World," the haunting and desperate "Pretty Baby," and, my personal favorite, the indecisive country gem "On The Fence."
I'm reluctant to compare Benson to Raconteurs band mate Jack White, as they are two entirely different beasts... but someone is bound to, so I might as well. After all, the two released their albums on the same day! If, in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future, I were forced to choose one of these fine musicians to recommend to a friend, I would gladly throw my support behind Benson in this informal competition. While Jack White's eclectic musical styles on "Blunderbuss" might hold my attention for the moment, few of his songs impress upon me the feeling of timelessness. Benson's introspective focus on thoughts and emotions put into words and set to fitting instrumentals creates the kinds of songs that will stay with me long into the future. "What Kind of World" is a worthy addition to Benson's catalog and deserves more than to simply be overlooked and underrated.
What Kind of World is consistent with his previous solo releases in that it has interesting melodies, thoughtful lyrics and great layered vocals. If you have not listened to Brendan before, lend What Kind of World an ear. You'll be hooked.