By Amy Longsdorf
With Raconteur bandmate Jack White off making music with The Dead Winter, Brendan Benson is left to his own devices on “My Old Familiar Friend.” Lucky us. The 11-track album is a cornucopia of cascading keyboards, jangling guitars, and shiny pop hooks.
Kick-off track “A Whole Lot Better,” in particular, grabs a hold of your eardrums and won’t let go. Deftly describing the eve of a break-up, Benson sings, “I fell in love with you, and out of love with you, and back in love with you, all in the same day.” Factor in a melody so infectious that you’ll be singing it for days afterwards and you have a gorgeous slice of pop perfection.
Other numbers like “Eyes on the Horizon,” “Gonowhere,” and “Feel Like Taking You Home” are just as crushworthy. Wings, Big Star, and Todd Rundgren are the album’s obvious touchstones, but Benson has a few surprises up his sleeve too.
The discofied “Garbage Day” sounds like Badfinger by way of Giorgio Moroder. Over creamy, Philadelphia International-style strings, Benson makes like a masochist and croons, “If she throws her heart away/I’ll be there on garbage day.” On the New Wavey “Feel Like Taking You Home,” he does an about-face and channels astringent rockers like Joe Jackson and Graham Parker.
There’s not a single weak link on the CD. From the first note to the last, Benson’s “Friend” casts a serious spell.
Release Date: 8/18/09
Official Site: www.atorecords.com
Photos courtesy ATO Records.
[Amy Longsdorf’s entertainment coverage has appeared in Blender, People, the Chicago Tribune, the Toronto Star and Newsday. She doesn’t want to imagine a world without Preston Sturges movies, Stax singles, and the music of Bob Marley.]