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CD of The Week

Week of 1/11/21

    Ben Kweller - Circuit Boredom (The Noise Company)

    Ben Kweller's sixth proper solo album has been a long time coming. Since 2012's Go Fly a Kite, Kweller has recorded with Foo Fighters and opened for super fan Ed Sheeran, but also took some time away from making music due to a life-threatening incident in 2013. While on vacation, he and his family suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, which made BK reevaluate his priorities and career. Another tragedy, the death of his friend, actor Anton Yelchin, prompted him to return to music once again. Arriving nearly two years after it was first announced, Circuit Boredom is BK's return to what he does best: open-hearted, catchy guitar rock.

    The first taste of the record was "Heart Attack Kid" and its crunchy big riffs are right out of the noisiest parts of Ben's catalog. "Carelesss" is written from the POV of a rebellious teen "girl in zebra tights dressed in black," where "the crooked path draws me back more than the straight" and is a total blast with its Farfisa keyboards and straight-ahead rocking guitars.

    "Starz" has a very later-era Weezer vibe, with its bass grove and icy synth underlying the track, while "Only a Day" would fit nicely on an album by his peers in Phantom Planet. Ben's lyrics can sometimes be pretty vague-yet-universal. On the wistful "Just for Kids," BK sings that it "falling in love ain't just for kids" and in the twangy "American Cigarettes," he pleads to hold a relationship together.

    The slight Circuit Boredom fits just eight songs in under a half-hour. By now, Ben's been making charming, poppy rock for more than half his life and Circuit Boredom shows he still has the skills to craft a great hook and a fun riff. Much of this album sounds like Ben is surely raring to play these songs live and hopefully, he'll get a chance down the road.
    Review by Joey O.

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