Secret Meeting score: 82
by Philip Moss
You’ve only got to listen to the first couple of minutes of Mr Ben & The Bens’ new EP, Happy Shopper, to realise that Ben Hall (aka Mr Ben) is a bit of a romantic. After the shuffling drums, melodic bass and spiky yet somewhat restrained guitars, he enters recalling a seemingly lost love – ‘In spots, dotted in my dream land, all along the page, far into the night… I lost you long ago, how you used to to write with me.’ But to merely sing about a former flame would be far too drab for this 25-year-old, Lancaster based singer/songwriter. Because this is not just any love – it’s an ode to a long lost pen. And this blend of eccentric subject matter is just one of the things that sets Mr Ben & The Bens apart.
Along with a penchant for adept lyricism, Mr Ben has an ear for a tune. Perhaps the real gem of this four track collection is Fall In Love Again – a delightful piano-based pop ditty that carries the off kilter musicality of Cate Le Bon, but a vocal melody that would slot right onto Teleman’s gorgeous debut, Breakfast. So by the time a smattering of brass and a refrain of ‘ooohs’ are thrown into the mix too, it’s already buried itself deep into your conscience.
The Same Rain Falls on Every Soul feels a little more contemplative, with more than a splash of The Life Pursuit-era Belle & Sebastian. While It’s The End sees Mr Ben take on the role of folk troubadour, which brings this eclectic eleven-minute EP to an understated, contemplative close.
Happy Shopper may only be a snapshot into the world of Mr Ben, but I for one cannot wait to find out what’s next up his sleeve.