By JAKE ROBINSON
In the shadow of the new album releases from Van Halen and Paul McCartney on Feb. 7, was Ben Kweller’s Go Fly a Kite. However, the album proved that it shouldn’t have been in the shadow, but rather on a pedestal high above the other two as its originality and energy was far beyond any other album to be released so far this year.
The dynamic artist, who began his career as a teenager with Radish in the 1990s, released his sixth solo album which features a library of engaging rock songs. Kweller’s experience shows on the album as it is highlighted with mature song structure and lyrics.
The album begins with Mean To Me which features dark harmonies reminiscent of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, which Kweller may have picked up while being featured on the group’s Four Winds EP. The song transitions from raw verses and dynamic chorus before escalating into a screaming guitar solo. It also features a tasteful rendition of piano fills which captures an old-school rock ’n’ roll sound that might be heard from artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis.
Kweller continues the album with Jealous Girl which is a poppy, up-tempo song about him losing a friend to a relationship. The catchy chorus sings, “can’t you let your boyfriend be himself, sweet jealous girl – the only one you’re hurting baby is yourself.”
Gossip is one of the stronger songs on the album. Its jaunty piano progression and mystical chorus is reminiscent of a tavern atmosphere. Kweller’s influences are prominent throughout the song as his grungy vocal track is similar to that of John Lennon. The song concludes with a harmony that transitions beautifully into the intro guitar riff of the next song – Free.
Free begins with a blues-based rhythm section before entering the chorus which features a prominent shot from the snare drum.
As the album reaches the middle of its duration, it features the modest workings of songs such as Full Circle, The Rainbow and I Miss You. All of the songs outline a message that Kweller seems to be sending which illustrates appreciating the little things in life.
He divides those songs up with Justify Me which is a plea to accept himself. Kweller sings rapid vocals over a punk-rock drum beat, quickly strummed guitars and a melodic piano remedy which highlights the double-tap of the snare drum.
The album concludes with You Can Count On Me, which is about losing friends.
Kweller has picked up the reputation of being a sophisticated songwriter and resembles artists such as Arlo Guthrie and Tom Petty.
The entire album features catchy riffs, dynamic rhythm sections and enchanting vocals. As the album is on the heavier side compared to the majority of his solo work, it comes across as very passionate and emotional. Go Fly A Kite is one of the best albums that Kweller has released and leaves listeners wondering what’s next for the singer/songwriter.