September 14, 2006

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Ben Kweller, Ben Kweller
ATO/RCA Records, 2006

Put this in the player and it’s likely your jaw will drop, bounce off the floor and loosen a few fillings over the naiveté of it all, that is unless you’ve been subjecting yourself to super-dweeby fringe Americana like Daniel Bedingfield of late. Unfortunately for smug, certified-old reviewers, though, he’s got an excuse, that being his recent past as a shower-fresh teen idol with Radish, hence non-old readers will likely derive smug satisfaction over the fact that at age 24, Kweller’s now in his 12th year in this ridiculous business, and regardless of this record’s being a woefully non-rockin soft target, there are probably churchfuls of well-adjusted young fundie girls who’d faint in his presence (and he’s sort of on R!C!A!). The meat of “I Gotta Move” is even scarier than its title, with its worst… lyrics…. ever… about hitting the streets while it’s still sunny and falling in love with some honey, ooh mama, as though Player had risen from the grave. Oh, oh, and “Run” uses Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” as a template, down to the damnable jingle bells. Stay with us, folks — think about what Charles Manson is doing today or something. C

— Eric W. Saeger