ALBUM REVIEW: Mr Ben & The Bens – Life Drawing | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Bella Union

Released: 10.07.20







Ben Hall’s new collection has some semblance of a narrative thread, character pieces set in the North of England that coalesce with one another; tender, descriptive, vivid stories that feel cinematic in scope. It’s also Hall’s most musically ambitious to date (he plays everything on the record barring drums). MB&TB have had the ‘indie-pop’ tag thrown at them, but that feels reductive in this instance, Hall’s songwriting magpies from numerous corners of (particularly British) songwriting.

Astral Plane (not a Modern Lovers cover!) taps into the spirit of Robert Wyatt with its sashaying brass, with Hall’s fragile falsetto telling a Bildungsroman. Faithful Hound is reminiscent of Euros Childs and his most whimsical, and The Windle On Spittlehill has a similar musicality to peers Teleman, with a Clientele-ish spoken word piece. Hall’s knack for making the silly serious (and the inverse) is the record’s greatest strength. The songs are sincere, effecting and idiosyncratic in their detail. Images of the North of England pepper the record at every turn, though it’s universal in any moments of parochialism. A gorgeous album of beautiful, bittersweet songs worthy of your attention.


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