Better known as
Jack White’s right-hand man in The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson returns to his
gig as a skilled purveyor of retro-pop on his fourth solo disc, My Old, Familiar Friend. One listen to the blistering opener, “A Whole
Lot Better,” a stick of power pop dynamite with rapid-fire percussion and
high-pitched keys that recall Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and it’s
clear Benson knows plenty about writing a good hook.
His keen melodic
sensibilities continue to shine on other rough-around-the-edges power pop
numbers like “Poised and Ready” and “Borrow” as well as mellower tunes like the
exquisite Motown-infused “Garbage Day” and “Eyes on the Horizon,” which draws
from Benson’s Rundgren and McCartney influences. The album sags only when Benson manages to
sound merely pleasant-“Lesson Learned,” “Gonowhere”-or adopts a style
ill-suited for his talents-the droning, dance beat-driven “Feel Like Taking You
Home” comes to mind.
Standout Tracks: “A
Whole Lot Better,” “Garbage Day” JASON