Damn you, Claire Danes! What have you done to the whimsical pop prodigy famed for penning Evan Dando's only decent tunes and his own quirky off-kilter songs about girls? Poor Ben's gone Zen post-breakup - dude thanks a Taoist healing centre and freakin' Rob Breszny in the liner notes! It means his chipper strum-along ditties have gotten even more upbeat and earnest. While Lee's Aussie chirp is slightly grating when he urges listeners to just go for it in the pseudo-Buddhist mantra of opener Whatever It Is, his cryptic forays into darker corners like cheating on No Right Angles and "using god to pick up girls" on Get Gotten do tug at the heartstrings. Brad Wood keeps the production crisp and clear even with noodly electronic bits in the arrangements, and I dig Lee's deft incorporation of a hook from All Apologies in We're All In This Together.
Ben Lee plays the Reverb Friday (March 4) at 10 pm as part of CMW.