I own three Ben Lee albums. On each of those albums (Awake Is The New Sleep, Ripe & The Rebirth Of Venus) I have favourite songs. Although I love Ben’s work, I’m not yet keen enough to write a review of each individually, so I’m going to briefly talk about some of my personal favourites.
Let’s start with the first time I heard Ben. Catch My Disease was all over Nova FM on my 2005 Australia Holiday. It was always playing. And, ‘scuse the cliché, I most certainly did catch the disease that he was spreading. No, I’m not talking some dodgy rash; I’m talking about the Ben Lee phenomenon.
Whilst he can be deemed as an irritating feminist by certain Australian Media Outlets, I struggle not to be caught up in his songs. I mean, in Ripe he uses the similes “Like bacon at a Bar-Mitzvah, like a lead balloon”. What’s not to love about that? Plus he has a track called What Would Jay-Z Do? You try and deny that as being something of an amusing title. We all should take a little time out of our everyday life situations and consider the actions that Mr Z would take were he posed with the same problems. And it’s through Lee’s song that you are lead to think about this obvious possibility.
Whilst a normal collaboration for Lee would be an onstage appearance with Missy Higgins, or letting her provide backing vocals for I Love Pop Music, in Birds and Bees, we hear Lee team up with Jessica Simpson. A perhaps odd choice, the song works in funny way that implies it might not have been made with the most serious intentions.
His newest album does seem a bit feminist-y. With Song For The Divine Mother Of The Earth being found on the album after Sex Without Love you feel a bit of a leap in both Lee’s morals and song writing skills. And proclaiming I’m A Woman Too is a bit too much for a recently married man. Face it, you’re a guy. Now move on.
Part of me wonders how much of his songs are about him. Are they biographical? Or entirely fiction? I can’t say. But I know that Lee knows how to laugh at himself. Having seen him perform Ben Lee You Suck live, along with watching the link he posted to The Chaser’s song wishing death upon him, you get the impression that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Which is good for someone who talks about the price of oil and renewable energy in a pop song.
Numb shows honesty about the music industry before slagging off your label became cool. Refusing to go numb is something that Lee has continued to do as he makes new music. Changing his style with each new album, he keeps his listeners waiting apprehensively for what will come next. And so, despite not being entirely won over by his last album, I’m still suffering from the aforementioned disease.