Brendan Benson – You Were Right (2013)

Brendan Benson should have become a famous star like his colleague and friend Jack White a long time ago. The 43-year-old singer-songwriter from Detroit issued a few sparkling, if slightly flawed power-pop albums at the turn of the century, but his solo output remained in the shadows of his work with White and the Raconteurs — despite Benson’s having collaborated with well-known producer Gil Norton of Pixies and Foo Fighters fame.

Perhaps it’s because Benson, in trying to carry the 1960s and ’70s songwriting style forward on his own projects, misses something along the way. When he pays homage to heroes like ELO, T. Rex and Elton John, the music is not nervous or mysterious enough to reach the same level. He also counts among his influences the Beatles, Elliott Smith and Weezer, but Benson’s takes can occasionally feel second hand.

Fast forward to You Were Right, an album for fans of minor chords and light pop-rock music. Again, a little more charm and character of its own would do the work some good. Benson, once more, is copying too obviously from his idols. Benson is a capable songwriter and it is almost impossible not to like him, but You Were Right lack a musical concept, or even a homogeneous atmosphere. It sounds more like a collection of singles — and not always great ones.

A prime example is “I Do Not Wanna See You Anymore.” It is, without a doubt, a catchy song but at the same time a harmless one. The track starts with beautiful harmonies, but towards the end it flattens way too much. Far more successful work with artists such as White or the Greenhornes garage rock band seems to illustrate a larger point: Maybe Benson is a born sidekick.

    

Mike Dostert

Luxembourg resident Mike Dostert has written about music for more than two decades, with work appearing in a local newspaper, via his own independent music magazine and at the web sites www.music-brain.com and lux-culture.jimdo.com. He has also worked for 20 years as a DJ and radio host. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.