Release Date: 08.05.03
Record label: F-2 Music
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
Young and Foolish
by: bill aicher
Whether you've heard of him or not, Ben Lee has had quite an impressive career in music already. In 1993, at age 14, his band Noise Addict was signed to Fallaheen Records. Soon thereafter the young band started gaining attention from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, who released their first EP in the U.S. A debut single called "I Wish I Was Him," referring to Evan Dando (of Lemonheads fame) brought the band to Dando's attention, who recorded a cover version. But it wasn't until Mike Diamond of The Beastie Boys heard it that Lee got big. As Noise Addict continued, so did Lee with the Grand Royal label - his Young and Jaded EP acting as one of the label's first releases.
The band released one more album and folded, leaving Lee to continue as a young "prodigy" solo artist. His subsequent releases Grandpaw Would, Something to Remember Me By and Blowing Tornadoes built upon this reputation.
Still, I hadn't heard Ben Lee before Hey You Yes You. At least not that I can remember. And honestly, after repeated listens to his latest release, Hey You Yes You, it wouldn't be surprising to have, three years down the road, forgotten that I'd heard Ben Lee before.
You see, Hey You Yes You is one of my least favourite types of albums. It's an album that's nice, but that's about it. Based around the singer-songwriter vibe, with a healthy dose of added beats, synths and loops from Dan the Automator, there's not much here to grab you. An argument could be made for the lyrics, but really... lines like "Destiny is not up to me / It's not my fault / Your love's like salt" (from "Aftertaste") are hardly profound.
Yet, Hey You Yes You does have a few high points. The single "No Room to Bleed," an airy lovesick ballad succeeds on most levels. Featuring Lee's slightly other-worldly vocals over a simple piano loop and drum 'n' bass loop, it's one of the album's more hopeless moments and a testament to what Lee could be. Likewise, the dreamy guitar work of "Chills" also works ... lending one to think Lee may best be suited to the lighter fare of sentimental artsy dreamworks rather than his more pop-oriented (boring) fare.
In a time when bands like The Postal Service are finally getting the lip service they deserve, Ben Lee's Hey You Yes You seems like it couldn't have come around at a beter time. Still, I can't help but get the feeling that listening to Hey You Yes You is like listening to The Postal Service, if you don't really like The Postal Service. I can finally hear how this "emotronica" music can come across as nice, but in the end be absolutely boring, contrived and forgettable.
17-Sep-2003 9:00 AM