Brendan Benson: What Kind Of World


Savoring his more famous work alongside Jack White in The Raconteurs, guitarist Brendan Benson can spot a great rock hook a mile away. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that his latest album again has him taking his hooks bucket and dumping it into another well of gold. From the opening title track which isn’t beefy but has punch, Benson shows some of his softer, Elton-ish side on the piano ballad "Bad For Me" that thankfully nears but doesn’t enter some kind of Billy Joel’s schlock territory.

It’s Benson’s knack for power pop is longstanding, especially when you hear a slow-burner like "Light Of Day" (not a cover of Springsteen) grow under some fine guitar work and a solid rhythm section. Here Benson adds some airy harmonies to make it all gel with relative ease in the vein of an edgier Matthew Sweet. But it’s "Happy Most Of The Time" with its Beatles nuances that makes it so damn toe-tapping, appealing and memorable. It will leave you feeling happy all of the time.

Generally, the album shines from start to finish but has some moments that take a few listens to appreciate, perhaps none more so than the slow groove oozing out "Pretty Baby" which isn’t a serenading kind of song unless clinically insane. Meanwhile the synth-laced "Met Your Match" is passable at best but doesn’t quite hit the mark Benson is capable of. But overall, the record, which was released on the same day as his offspring’s second birthday, is indicative of the musician’s timeless, quality-heavy chops. Rock is better for having Brendan Benson in its world.

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