Ben Lee: The Rebirth of Venus

By: Wesley Hodges

There are no polyrhythmic movements, no lyrical subtleties and not a single track that doesn't at least attempt to hook the listener towards the catchier midsection of the musical spectrum. Nothing far out here, just the pop music that we've come to expect from Ben Lee. An internationally known artist since his teens, Lee has been pumping out accessible albums for over a decade.

Optimistic and cheery to the point of repetition, Lee's newest full length effort The Rebirth of Venus (New West) is a 13 song set dedicated to the fairer sex that finds the singer-songwriter trying "to find a balance between [his] own masculine and feminine nature," and is dedicated to the Goddess of Love and Beauty herself with portions of the album's proceeds benefiting FINCA's Village Banking program, which empowers women in poorer countries by providing credit for entrepreneurial efforts and small businesses.

The album is unabashedly catchy, and the LP's centerpiece is a tune called "I Love Pop Music," a unique track with an expectedly catchy chorus that alternates with Lee's alarming verses commenting on the dangers of our modern ways. There is an ode to "Yoko Ono" (a first outside of John Lennon?) that finds Lee positing, "They're still reeling from the fact that you came stealing/ Their alpha-male rock star/ Blew his mind and opened his heart." Much of the album misses the mark and even strays from the central theme at times into political commentary such as in the melancholic plea "Wake Up To America." However, many of the tracks will play well in the live arena (a place where Lee excels) with their engaging call-and-response verses.

Rebirth is an interesting concept and thought provoking in its mission, but as a piece of art it's more forgettable than Lee's earlier works. If nothing else, this album will surely find itself in Women's Studies courses for years to come as an anomalous rock album by a male artist centrally based on the ideas of feminism.

JamBase | Estrogen Rich
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[Published on: 8/3/09]

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