In Review: Benny Sings - Music

Rather than striving for thematic ties, Sings (with “kindred spirits” including Mac DeMarco and Tom Misch) instead goes for sonic cohesion on his latest album. On that note, he succeeds marvellously.
Posted: 7 April 2021 Words: Isaac Bartels

Let’s get the hyperbole out of the way: Benny Sings continues to be the most underrated force in the indie-pop scene. Vaulting Rex Orange County to VSCO-girl stardom, scoring a collaboration with Free Nationals, and adding yet another esteemed cover of Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’ to the pile, Sings has collected all the necessary ingredients required to be a bastion of slept-on yet indisputable talent.

It’s not hard to see why Sings’ music has taken as long to blow up as it has. The lo-fi bedroom pop of 2011’s weird, outstanding Art was at least five years ahead of its time. So, what’s the next move for the Dutch soloist whose music is now the norm? Collaboration, of course. Sings’ eighth (eighth!) studio album, Music, continues his streak of cozy cohesion, this time with an added supporting cast. In an uncharacteristic move for the self-described loner, half the album is stacked with featured artists - “kindred spirits”, he calls them.

Opener ‘Nobody’s Fault’ leaps straight into the groove. Wonky pop with a sting of funk sets the tone for the album, its lyrics an eased resignation to the passage of time. “Hey, it's nobody's fault we’re getting old, and time keeps slipping on” - Sings’ vocals, precious and emotive, make a point of resting comfortably beneath the mix. They feel effortless yet introverted, as if Sings doesn’t want to cause a bother. Feature Tom Misch closes with a guitar outro that slowly soars above the instrumental.

‘Rolled Up’, featuring Mac DeMarco, is perhaps the most downbeat offering on the album. Samples of nature and outdoor life contrast nicely with the lyrics that detail the claustrophobic indoor experience. Yet the golden sunshine of Sings’ production sparkles throughout. Deep cut ‘KIDS’ with KYLE, features one of the year’s best pre-choruses. Nostalgic piano builds towards a chorus that zaps back into the minimalist groove.

Of the album’s solo offerings, the highlight has to be ‘Sunny Afternoon.’ Jazz-inflected keys glisten in the verse as stabbed piano chords jump in for the chorus, solidifying the bedroom pop influence on the largely Motown groove. Orchestral strings thicken the soaring final chorus, full of vocal ad-libs and improvisation.

Sure, there are shades of Sings’ previous greatest works here, but there’s something new, a more holistic approach to the lyricism. The warm introversion of the album melts like caramel, lending a whimsical charm to the whole project. Rather than striving for thematic ties, Music instead goes for sonic cohesion. On that note, it succeeds marvellously.

Music is out on Friday (9th April) via Stones Throw Records.

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