'Go Fly a Kite' is Ben Kweller's 5th album and his first released through his own Noise Company record label. Originally scheduled for a much earlier airing, Ben decided to err on the side of caution; "not to rush it" and "make sure it's just right." The lone star Texan's follow up to 2009's 'Changing Horses' is certainly a polished affair with slick and crisp production and mixing courtesy of Ben himself, and Steve Mazur.
Ben's blend of Soft-Rock slanted Power-Pop is given a full work over from the off with the '80s vibe of 'Mean To Me'. The mix of tempered guitar riffs rockin' out to Ben's laid back and smooth vocal recalls The Cars and Tom Petty as this all American affair trips along (you could lay this track over images of Kevin Bacon skipping his way through disused outhouses, barns, bleachers and industrial units in the Mid-West and it'd all fit perfectly). A splash of exuberant horns and some tight percussion add nicely to the atmosphere. 'Out The Door' keeps the harmony heavy, feel good sing-a-long going at full tilt with incidental touches drawn from the Finn brothers, The Travelling Wilbury's and Simon and Garfunkel helping to create a Country driven mix. 'Jealous Girl' more than maintains the album's momentum, harking back to vintage Petty and cinematic, scene-setting Springsteen with the added pleasure of a belting piano score that could easily be Billy Joel tickling the ivories.
The well written, carefully constructed tunes continue en masse with the more stripped back arrangement of 'Gossip' and the Lynyrd Skynyrd riffed 'Free'. The lazy guitar and vocal style occasionally dips into Lou Reed territory and is a little uncomfortable for it, making this one of the weaker links in this 11 track set (Ben doesn't quite have the kind of swagger to pull this off yet). Follow on track 'Full Circle' has a modicum too much of slightly tiresome (not just on this album, but generally), Country tinged sentimentality..."As I burned all the books I read, I recall something, someone, somewhere said. There's so much in us you don't see, don't judge anyone because everybody comes full circle, I've come full circle." Parity is restored with 'Justify Me'; the more frenzied start is blended with occasional Procol Harum organs in a schizophrenic tune that mirrors its protagonist's struggle. The more reflective, cliche ridden 'The Rainbow' calms the mood before the Roadhouse stomp of 'Time Will Save The Day' which sees Ben get back to what he's best at; pacey, passionate and penetrating Power-Pop.
Ben closes out 'Go Fly A Kite' with something to accompany a late night Pinot Noir after a particularly 'touching' and traumatic episode of Grey's with the slightly sickly 'I Miss You' and finally 'You Can Count On Me'. The beat returns but not the drive and the sign off is a little under whelming in comparison to a lot of what's gone before it.
With 'Go Fly A Kite', Ben Kweller has produced an enjoyable album that eschews the need to embrace anything new, quirky, gimmicky or remotely contemporary. It captures all that is American in a neatly wrapped, clean and commercial package that is so user and radio friendly, it must be a plugger's dream. This is Glee, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Footloose, Dawson's Creek and The O.C blended into a youthful, acceptable and sanitised soundtrack for all the family to enjoy..........if that's your bag!
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