Brendan Benson

Rock's best kept secret

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By Gary Graff  

Brendan Benson is one of rock's best-kept secrets -- perhaps the very best-kept. He's released two albums of sterling songcraft, neither of which received the right push to give him the deserved vault above cult status. Even now, the world knows him mostly as one of Jack White's good buddies, with whom Benson has recorded an album that he touts as Detroit's equivalent of Nevermind.

But if there's any justice in the world, then Benson's third effort, The Alternative to Love, will be the real charm. This is pure pop by a remarkably talented musician and songsmith. Taking the one-man-band approach, Bensen here has crafted a sterling collection of eleven memorable tunes, many as clever and inventively arranged as they are easy to listen to.

Opening with the insta-hook, two-chord sprint of "Spit it Out," Benson trots us through the guttural shuffle of "Feel Like Myself," the Spectorian wall of "The Pledge," the start-stop dynamics of "Gold Into Straw" and the trippy textures of "Between Us."  The guitar-drenched "Get It Together" is a Mersey beat styled highlight, while "Biggest Fan" employs both a lushness and an airy sensibility that captivates sonically. There are signs of real genius at work here, making this an essential addition to just about anything else you might be listening to right now.

Gary Graff writes extensively about music. His work has appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Detroit Free Press, and Billboard.