I'm writing pop songs. Done it for so long. Sometimes I dream about a chorus that's so clever and dumb. Now their telling me, the music industry, 'you can stay if you behave. be a good boy go to sleep' But I refuse to go numb.
-- Ben Lee
Oh remember 1995 when Ben Lee came on the scene with Grandpaw Would on the now defunct Grand Royal Records? Or better yet, how about his band Noise Addict's release the year before? The buzz- iest thing about Mr. Lee was the fact that he hadn't even hit puberty yet and was writing amazing pop songs. I still listen to "Away With The Pixies." There's been a lot of great albums along with way including the wonderful Breathing Tornados from 1999. He even does a great cover of "Wicked Little Town" from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch tribute album Wig In A Box. Looks like Ben is back in a great way with RIPE.
RIPE is a really great collection of twelve terrific pop songs. When most artists today only give us one or two songs and force us to pay $18 to put up with another ten tracks that are simply filler, Ben Lee has produced a true album that's great from beginning to end.
RIPE features a bunch of guests artists including Rooney on "American Television" a song about growing up in the 90s watching America and "being in love with possibility." "Birds And Bees" is a duet with Mandy Moore that reminds me of Nancy Sinatra's "Something Stupid." Other stand outs include "Home" in which he sings about loneliness, but that somber topic disappears among the raucous beat and suddenly you are singing along. One of the best songs on this album is "What Would JayZ Do." I think we all can benefit by taking the time to ask ourselves that from time to time when the going gets rough. He sings "What does he do when it's hard to get through?" The answer is probably something involving "the hottest chick in the game" or "vacationing in St.Tropez", but at the end of the day I think Ben's trying to tell us that everyone has got drama.
The world (and music business potentially) is truly a better place with Ben Lee in it. RIPE is proof of that.