Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ben Kweller - Ben Kweller (ATO)
Writer: Aaron McMullan

“Ben Kweller opens with "Run", which you'll remember from a couple paragraphs ago, and what "Run" does is it makes a couple things clear with regards what a fella can expect over the duration of the album, thematically and musically. With regards the former, themes of running. That's what we're talking about. Running.”

* It takes the writer too long to get to this. He mentions masturbating in his teens (contrasting his experiences with Kweller’s, who was touring the world at 15), when in fact, he’s still jerking off – this time, with his writing. Get to the point.

“Ben Kweller's songs, you can find out if folks've heard them by taking a stool sample. They cluster and bunch and swell in every corner of a person's being, traces of them skit about the gastrointestinal tract for months afterwards. Special kindsa songs, y'unnerstann, they'll do that.”

* If you’re trying to compliment someone’s music, don’t use shit as an analogy.

This review is way too long, completely self-involved, and a poor attempt at being clever. It’s not worth wading through this review to get information.

Review Rating: 12%


Drowned in Sound
Writer: Ben Marwood
Drowned in Sound Rating: 7

“Harking back to the days of Sha Sha’s ‘Lizzy’, ‘In Other Words’ and ‘Falling’, Ben Kweller is tender, fragile and devoted. Gone are the grunge-pop moments, the raw recordings and the fuzzy distortion - in many ways it's all for the best. This is Kweller’s most complete-sounding long-player yet, a fully-formed entity whereas his previous outings skipped playfully from one feel to the next.”

* A firm statement here in the second paragraph, but it’s exactly what’s said in the first paragraph.

“If there’s a criticism to be made of Ben Kweller, it's that it might be a little too straightforward in places, maybe even a little samey. A high percentage of its eleven songs are ballads or just slower numbers, rarely deviating from the path they initially set out on. The new, ‘mature’ sound is a pleasant addition to the Kweller arsenal, but after a while you yearn for a twist to the standard time signatures or a satisfied yell, something – anything - to show us that Kweller has mellowed because he wants to, and not because he’s forgotten how to do anything else.”

* Yes, criticism is needed. If it sounds redundant, how can this effort be considered mature? It’s a quality criticism, but it sounds reluctant, as if the writer doesn’t want to offend a friend. He actually bunks the criticism in the next paragraph, stating Kweller succeeds with the final track on the album.

“How this album is perceived will doubtless vary from person to person, depending on which of Kweller’s qualities you most admire, but – personal preferences aside – you’d be hard pushed to argue that Ben Kweller is anything other than a beautiful, touching collection of songs, and one which marks an important rite of passage in one man’s career, even if it doesn’t always feel like his best work.”

* This is a good wrap.

It’s an average review. It’s shaky – tip-toeing around real criticism because the writer really wants to like this record. In the end, even as a fan, it’s apparent that this release has been a disappointment. That should’ve been explored more.

Review Rating: 53%


I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
Writer: Heather Browne

“The songs consistently have these great builds and breaks that make me want to dance around and airdrum on things. There's also that effect where I found myself somehow singing along on the choruses the very first time I listened to it. It's got a recognizable quality even if you've never heard him before, but it's eminently fresh.”

* Though it sounds like she’s talking about a distant album that I’ll never hear (“these great builds…”), the final line of this paragraph is the point she needs to get across.

“As we've discussed before, Ben Kweller plays all of the instruments on this album and wrote all of the songs. That's pretty impressive once you hear the variety of instruments he uses, and to such competent effect.”

* Good side information that hasn’t popped up in any other reviews. Writers forget to mention things like this when they’re too busy talking about themselves.

Not a bad review, but she uses a tone that pushes the reader away from the feelings she’s trying to describe. It’s too personal of a review, mainly because there’s no depth to it – it’s all surface shine. It’s missing a conclusion, which tears this review down, as it will any review. Never skimp on the conclusion.

Review Rating: 46%


You Ain’t No Picasso

“’s refreshing to hear someone with such a young voice reflect on their own life through meetings with old high school classmates and cross-country journeys. It’s like a “quarter-life-crisis,” but without the self-indulgent label.

It’s funny how many superficial judgements you can make about the new Ben Kweller album before you’re wrong.”

* Outside of “judgments” being misspelled, these statements are not only misleading, but they are also not supported. The writer refers to maturity, but the two situations mentioned are not signs of maturity. Who’s making the judgments? The writer assumes the readers are going to make superficial judgments?

Short review, but nothing really to read. Serves as a base to put up an MP3.

Review Rating: 35%


Conclusion From Reviews:
It sounds like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. That’s basically it.


The writers attempt to claim there is maturity on this album, but it says more about the age of the writers than it does about Ben Kweller’s album. While the music shows Kweller’s seasoned comfort with pop, and his proven ability to hone that craft (in comparison to his first album, Sha Sha), the album displays someone definitely going through their “quarter life crisis.” The NEXT album will be the true reflection upon this time, while this album documents the time. To anyone past the age of 25, the lyrics on the album will sound somewhat young and borderline silly. However, Kweller has been that growing boy throughout his career, and while he has become mannish musically, lyrically he still has a couple years to go before becoming a man.

Out of Kweller’s releases, Monte would recommend On My Way (ATO), as it contains a rawness not found on their other two releases, while still leaning on pop.

Found Ben Kweller Tracks:
1. Run
2. Nothing Happening
3. Sundress
4. I Gotta Move
5. Thirteen
6. Penny on the Train Track
7. I Don't Know Why
8. Magic
9. Red Eye
10. Until I Die
11. This Is War

The Rules (off of On My Way)


DukeDeMondo said...

Reviewing the reviews! What a spectacular idea! And i'm sorry you didn't much dig my Ben Kweller piece, but you are, of course, absoloutely right. Self-obsessed and narccisistic (and bad at spelling) i certainly am. Very much enjoying your writing. - aaron

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