Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ben Lee: The Rebirth Of Venus

Aside from his Evan Dando-tweaking breakthrough “I Wish I Was Him” way back in 1993, Ben Lee’s innocuously anemic pop has never been terribly interesting. But The Rebirth Of Venus, his seventh full-length, offers a more direct kind of terrible. There’s the self-congratulatory narcissism of “What’s So Bad (About Feeling Good)?” and “I Love Pop Music,” an upbeat but equally awful flipside to Daniel Powter's “Bad Day.” But that’s nothing compared to Lee’s realization that the world was waiting for him to make a loosely conceptual album celebrating the power of feminine qualities to change the world politically. “Wake Up To America” is half spoken-word (“America is a big country / America is a big idea”), half dumb chorus; apparently Lee wants the country to “feel its broken heart beating like a drum.” Even that can’t prepare listeners for “I’m A Woman Too,” which assumes that women are monolithically compassionate fighters for justice. His list of women includes “the Jew,” “the Palestinian,” and “the planet.” At least it’s compellingly terrible, which is more than can be said for the slick void surrounding it.


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