It’s a Saturday morning. You wake up to the sunlight peering into your room and the birds chirping loudly outside your window. You yawn, stretch and move to the kitchen, where you begin to make your coffee or prepare your breakfast. Despite your eyes wanting to close again, you begin to mentally map out your day and perhaps get excited for upcoming plans. It’s this morning sensation, in between tired weariness and budding eagerness, that Benny Sings’ new album “Music” evokes from start to finish. With its subtly contagious rhythms and laid-back grooves, the album, released April 9, will make you want to close your eyes, tap your foot and sway with the music.
Arguably the most interesting part of Sings’ artistry is his exceptionally unassuming appearance, marked by a scruffy beard and a long mane of curly, dirty blond hair. His aesthetic is most similar to those of Mac DeMarco and King Krule, artists who bend celebrity fashion stereotypes through their modest clothing and simple guise. Sings’ demure physical appearance doesn’t seem to match the high falsetto, smooth tone and astoundingly euphonious voice he exhibits on his new album. Perhaps it is this element of surprise that intrigues listeners and makes his music a little more captivating.
Looking back on Sings’ earlier works, it’s clear that the chilled, indie-pop sound he displays on “Music” is nothing new. In 2019, Sings was featured on the Free National’s song “Apartment.” The song begins with drum hits and horns join in with a crescendo. But right when you think the song might become a more upbeat tune, Sings comes in with his soothing voice, shifting the feel of the track to a more mellow sound. Looking back further, “Big Brown Eyes” from Sings’ 2011 album “Art” is yet another example of Sings’ laid-back feel. Although the drums are harsher, the keyboard plays a simple, quiet melody throughout. Add in Sings’ vocals, and the result is another soft tune that you can listen to after a long night of work. All of this to say, on “Music,” Sings sticks to what he is known for: combining tight, contagious rhythms with dulcet vocals.
While half of the songs on “Music” are solo performances by Sings, there is no shortage of features on the album, with appearances from KYLE, DeMarco and others. The first song, “Nobody’s Fault,” spotlights the wildly popular Tom Misch on guitar. “Nobody’s Fault” immediately sets the tone for the album, as it infuses Sings’ vocals with the gritty sound of Misch’s electric guitar. At the end of the song, Misch takes a 40-second guitar solo, adding an instrumental punch to the otherwise entertaining yet repetitive tune. When listening to the song, I imagine myself cruising down a highway with the windows down, driving parallel to a beach on a sunny afternoon.
“Rolled Up” featuring DeMarco is another mellow track from Sings. DeMarco is the perfect feature for both this song and this album. Anyone familiar with DeMarco’s sound knows he is a master at chill music, which makes him an impeccable fit. “Rolled Up” is a song that should be played when you are getting out of bed or grabbing your morning cup of coffee. The song even begins with lyrics about waking up and the sound of birds chirping. At one point, DeMarco sings, “Finally see the sun through all of those clouds.” The track is akin to a warm wake-up call, and I wouldn’t be opposed to having it serve as my alarm for the next few weeks.
Of all the songs on “Music,” I was most taken aback by “Kids” featuring KYLE. The song, along with KYLE himself, seem completely out of place on an album that separates itself from a stereotypical “pop” feel. The track plays like a top-chart hit as opposed to the album’s cohesive fusion of funky and mellifluous sounds. While I can appreciate Sings’ willingness to venture into pop territory, the song felt incongruous to the others and a little too cookie-cutter for my taste.
Perhaps my favorite song on the album, “Run Right Back” stars Cautious Clay on the saxophone. While Sings can produce smooth sounding tracks effortlessly, his music can become repetitive. Clay’s saxophone solo on “Run Right Back” provides just enough variety toward the end of the album to keep listeners engaged and interested. Since the album begins with a guitar solo from Misch and ends with a saxophone solo from Clay, the song adds a sense of cohesion to “Music” as a whole.
Overall, “Music” is an album that should appeal to everyone. In a day and age when we are constantly bombarded with music that either makes us want to lose ourselves on a dance floor or bawl our eyes out, this album serves as a perfect middle ground. I can picture myself listening to this album on a long car ride, a study session or a hangout with a group of friends (outside and socially distanced). So if you, like me, are craving a new sound that breaks from the wildly overplayed, overstimulating sound of modern day pop, this album is for you.