After exploring country music (well, to a certain extent) on
2009’s My Old, Familiar Friend, power
pop maestro Brendan Benson returns to his roots on What Kind of World. Almost literally-not only does Benson’s fifth
full-length boast the same high degree of craft we’ve come to expect from the
Detroit-bred/Nashville-based songwriter, but he also seems to have recaptured some of the youthful exuberance of his 1996
debut One Mississippi.
The energy and hooks simply burst from irresistible cuts
like the title track, “Come On” and the new wave-inflected “Met Your Match.” Even
when Benson injects some of his trademark subtle moodiness into the songs, as
in “Here in the Deadlights” and “Thru the Ceiling,” the fizz still pops like a
shaken soda. There’s no lack for variety, either, via supple ballads and
country rockers. As far as songcraft is concerned, this may be Benson’s most
consistent record, and What Kind of World will induce ecstasy in the faithful and shocked delight in newcomers.
Kind of World,” “Thru the Ceiling” MICHAEL TOLAND