Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Brendan Benson, The Alternative to Love

Brendan Benson’s name came to the attention of many who had never heard of him when he joined up with The White Stripes’ Jack White, and the Greenhorne’s Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence to form The Raconteurs last summer.  At the time speculation abounded about whether Benson’s power pop chops would dilute White’s rock.  Unlike most everyone else, I was concerned with whether White’s tendency toward what seems to me to be pretentious and self-consciously arty posturing would overwhelm Benson.  Not to worry.  The two worked very well together and Broken Boy Soldiers was a pretty nice album.

Not as nice as The Alternative to Love, however.  Benson’s major label debut on Virgin didn’t go well as the label insisted on having it’s own way with production and marketing and Benson returned to his native Detroit to reboot.  The Alternative to Love is his second indie-label album (following 2002’s Lapalco) and it’s very good indeed.  Benson wrote and recorded all of the songs and plays most of the instruments.  His tunes are thoughtfully and carefully constructed, melodically and harmonically elegant, and rich with hooks.  The album is a sleeper.  At first it’s like “Oh, yeah, another guitar pop album”, but then the hooks sink in and take hold and you find yourself singing along whether the disc is playing or not.  Not everything on the album works.  The ham-handed Phil Spectorish production on “The Pledge” is a loser, for example.  On the other hand, the title cut is an almost perfect example of guitar-driven power pop.  This is one of the few CDs that we’ll go back to the rack to find and listen to again months after it was new.


02/26/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music

1 Comment »

  1. […] of an all-star band composed of critical darlings Jack White (guitars, vocals, synthesizer) and Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and indie stalwarts Jack Lawrence (bass, vocals) and Patrick Keeler […]

    Pingback by Review: The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely « Tuned In To Music | 06/29/2008 | Reply

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