While Ben Kweller’s previous works boasted retro tinges and throwbacks, for a lot of this offering you can imagine the affable singer thumbing a pile of his favourite records and saying, “See if you can recognise this one”.
Go Fly A Kite boasts 11 songs that are eclectic and energetic even though they often deal with darker themes like broken relationships and a general sense of yearning for the past. It’s basically like home or a warm blanket (maybe even a snuggie) as you sit curled up with a loved one and a warm cuppa in front of a blazing log fire. So while it may be cold outside, it is very warm over at Kweller’s house of sounds, where bottled sunshine and listening to the sea through conch shells seems de jour.
By now most listeners have come to know Ben Kweller as a reliable and enthusiastic artist. Opener, “Mean To Me” continues this trend with some rumbling guitars and a vibe that is not unlike Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”. “Out the Door” nods at both George Harrison and the smiling, 60s music synonymous with names like The Monkees and The Easybeats. There’s the stomping rock number, “Jealous Girl” while the following, “Gossip” is Beatlesque and places a particular emphasis on Messer Lennon in his “Jealous Guy” mode.
For “Free” we get a song that sounds like it was written and performed during the seventies but is rather hard to pin down. It’s almost on the tip of your tongue but then again, it could just as easily be the result of a drug haze. In contrast, “Justify Me” is a busy track with numerous changes in pace and gears. It’s a pop romp that chugs and whispers although the latter feeling is more easily found in the easy shuffle of “Full Circle,” something you could imagine The Eagles performing.
Ben Kweller is an endearing treasure that is known for his playful whimsy and carefree hooks and on Go Fly A Kite things are not drastically different from his past output. He clearly wears his influences (The Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Neil Young) prominently on his sleeve but he is also mature and assured enough to create something utterly his own and that is rich, well-crafted and darned fun. In short, it’ll leave you with a warm glow and will prove (sunny) music to your ears.
Originally published on 5 March 2012 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/31819/Ben-Kweller–Go-Fly-A-Kite
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