I think Ben Lee is a pretty amazing songwriter and although he has the capacity to cause humans either great joy or intense frustration his talent for writing forward thinking pop music cannot be denied. I’ve tuned in to Lee’s career on and off for the past 14 years with his album “Breathing Tornados” being my entry point back in 1999. I remember being quite obsessed with “Awake Is The New Sleep” when it was first released and still feel it was one of his finest moments as a songwriter. I am however a casual observer and if it wasn’t for my brother being a fan I wouldn’t have sampled the albums released since.
This brings me to Ben Lee’s new album “Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work ” which I must admit was low on my radar of things to review or even purchase. My whole attitude changed however when my brother sat me down to show me the album and just quietly I was blown away by what I heard.
Let me set the scene, Ben Lee is still writing pop music only this time round it is way more intense and soaked in psyche rock dynamics with almost prog rock undertones. Songs go from a glorious hymn of praise to a blissed out collection of drones and sometimes this can happen within the same song. There are no real hit singles on this album but I suspect that Ben Lee was not setting out to make a popular record or a collection of “hits” with this album. I like this new direction, it is a lot darker and the most intense Lee has ever sounded. He has only ever hinted at this darkness and intensity on previous albums. To hear it fully explored and expressed via these new songs is refreshing and I think this is by far the best thing he has done.
I’d describe the album as a psyche pop album with heavy prog influences. I think he’s done a better job than Tame Impala at making interesting psyche based pop music. This may be due to his experience as a songwriter and ability to truly push not just his sound but his own personal creative philosophies.
I can’t recommend this album enough and I truly believe that anyone currently pushing a “psyche” agenda with their musical tastes needs to listen to this record and hear a master songwriter really do the psyche thing well.
10 Cassette tapes out of 10
By: Dan Newton