Ten years ago, Brendan Benson released a fabulous slice of introspective pop in the shape of his second album, Lapalco. It was warmly welcomed and lauded across the indie press as the arrival of a sparkling new talent. And rightly so too, as it is a wonderful piece of work, a wry smile and a knowing wink accompanying its self-deprecation to brilliant effect.
It has also been the millstone around the neck of Brendan Benson ever since, with each subsequent release somewhat inevitably falling short of its power and poise.
Those releases include not only solo works, but two band pieces documenting his time as the second most famous guitarist in The Raconteurs. And yes, inevitably again, even working with the never-knowingly-anything-less-than-drop-dead-cool Jack White failed to produce long players better than Lapalco.
With all that in mind, it will come as no surprise that What Kind Of World also fails to reach that high water mark.
That said, it is not as if Benson’s fifth solo outing is an unenjoyable affair. Far from it. It is an album that rocks and rolls suitably across 12 tunes, crescendoing at all the right moments and delivering a foot-tapping, head-nodding experience to anyone who jumps into it.
Yet it shares something undesirable with his last album – the somewhat unimaginative My Old, Familiar Friend – in that it is utterly and completely forgettable.
Nudging around indie Americana, slapping in an unexpected nod or two to Crowded House and underlined with the occasional obligatory blues beat rock out, What Kind Of World slides in one ear and directly out the other.
Admittedly, some of the songs try desperately to cling onto a grey cell on the way through, but it is moments, rather than full tunes, that register any sort of memory.
Light Of Day’s surge into a chugging, rolling chorus is a highlight, as is the breakneck quickening of Here In The Deadlights as it moves from epic to indie, but it is the brass included in No One Else But You, which weaves into the melody to create a tune held somewhere between heartbreak, Bond soundtrack and the Beatles, that comes closest to something special.
So yet again, the great hulk of Lapalco overshadows Brendan’s newer work, leaving you with the feeling that despite his best efforts, he may end up being known as an eternal filler and never again be a thriller.