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May 26, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Album Review: Ben Lee – Ripe

Ripe is supposedly the culmination of 3 years of song-writing from the radio-rock loving, Claire Danes-dating, earnest self-indulgent album cover photo-taking, one-time musical boy genius Aussie Ben Lee. The 12 tracks here were apparently whittled down from over 80. 80? 80 of these bloody insipid tracks existed at one point?! Given that they all sound exactly the same, this whittling process must have been truly difficult.

Despite my initial knee-jerk reaction to this radio-pap record, the fact that Lee has 15 years of experience in the music business and is only barely in his late 20s means that somewhere along the line, he must have produced something worthwhile. I mean, the dude has now released 6 solo albums, so you’d think somehow in the process he would have learnt how to make interesting music. Think again.

I got over half-way through this album without even really registering any sort of reaction. In fact, I had to give it over 3 spins before I could even gauge any significant response to it. This isn’t because I wasn’t paying attention, it’s just that there is nothing present in the music here to notice – the step-lightly piano, the predictable guitar strumming, the paint-by-numbers drum work, Lee’s mid-90s radio single voice; all of it hits so softly that it doesn’t really register. Which isn’t to say that this won’t be a successful record. The Breeze 93.4 will surely have a field day spinning Ripe, and no doubt a hell of a lot of units will be moved.

A few of Ripe’s exquisitely pathetic moments deserve special mention. The vocal melody to ‘Sex Without Love’ is hilariously similar to Bon Jovi’s ‘Shot Through the Heart’ (guess which music editor grew up in the Wairarapa?), and ‘Birds and Bees’, a sugarsweet ode to indecisive teenage love featuring Mandy Moore (!!) wanks its way through ridiculous lines like ‘you are so beautiful you make me want to scream’.

There’s nothing in this album that I can recommend to anyone. No doubt these songs will soothe the radio-listening drive-time commuters stuck on the bypass with its soft droning, but other than that, I can’t actually picture a situation where anyone would want to put this record on.


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  1. Brunswick says:

    Somewhere, Ben Lee curls up in a sobbing ball while Claire Danes rummages through her closet to find her baseball bat, mouth fixed like a tiny letterbox.

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