Wednesday, October 04, 2006

He's So Kweller

My second review for class. I was limited to 400 words which proved to be a bit of a challenge. I'll have to revise it after my classmates critique it:

Ben Kweller’s third solo studio album is unmistakably Kweller. Maybe that’s why it’s self-titled, but he pushes himself further than he has before. Not only does he play all the instruments Paul McCartney style, but he goes from singing nonsense like “sha sha sha do” to heartfelt, autobiographical lyrics.

For those not familiar with the indie rocker/power pop singer/songwriter, he was in the band, Radish, as a young teenager. Radish was touted as the next Nirvana, but its initial success soon fizzled. As a solo artist, Kweller has retained a dedicated fan base and he has been compared to everyone from Tom Petty to the Beatles, but he has yet to hit it big in the mainstream.

The album opens with the upbeat and catchy piano and tambourine intro of “Run.” Kweller recently became a father and the song could have easily been written for his son. The lyrics are reminiscent of a nursery rhyme—“Over hills, over dales, I’ll run with you.” This is not to oversimplify the song. The aforementioned hook, killer bridge, and emotional vocals create a sound that combines the best of the pop and rock genres.

He goes from “Sundress,” the infectious music that Kweller is best known for to the guitar infused rock and roll number, “I Gotta Move,” to the beautiful “Thirteen.”

Kweller has done plenty of piano ballads and love songs, but he seems to have mastered this art in “Thirteen.” Musically it is fairly simple, driven only by a repetitive piano melody, but he breaks with tradition by not including a chorus. Kweller’s boyish voice and innocent lyrics are two of his trademarks and they are still present here, but his words expose him. In this stream of consciousness, he honestly speaks about his wife with such sentiments as, “I kissed your dry lips/We jumped off the high cliffs and splashed down below/Skin to skin in the salty river.”

The bluesy “Red Eye” sees Kweller in another departure, experimenting with an R & B sound he has never attempted before.

The last song on his albums is usually reserved for a power piano ballad, but Kweller surprisingly closes with the rocker “This is War.”

There is not a bad track on this album, which is rare in the pop music world. Kweller may never fill stadiums, but he can take comfort in the fact that he’s created his best album yet.

No comments: