Ben Lee – Awake is the New Sleep


Warning: This album contains musical content which may give the listener irritable bowel syndrome. Or at least that’s what it should say on the cover. With Ben Lee’s fifth studio effort, Awake is the New Sleep, this self styled poster boy for Gen-Y, really does prove that inane is the latest deep. “Whatever it is” starts things off with some repetitive guitar and even more repetitive lyrics, whose “Just do it” chorus reminds me of some annoying soft drink commercial. The next song, “Gamble Everything for Love” is somewhat better, until the “You Can Go Your Own Way” chorus comes in, with a melody so tedious it almost makes me want to reach for the ebsom salts. And then there’s “Begin”, whose lyrics are so basic, I can honestly feel my IQ dissipate while listening to it. The post-indie “Catch My Disease” is perhaps the most well known song here, championed by JJJ (bastion of fine taste that it is), as well as having received modest airplay on popular US radio (hard as that is to believe). At least the chorus is catchy, like conjunctivitis. And with verses such as “I’m made of atoms/and you’re made of atoms/and we’re all in this together”, who needs John Donne, when Australia’s very own poet laureate of pop is telling us that “I don’t mean to rush you/I just want to reach out and touch you”. In other songs he aches for his ex girlfriend in, you guessed it, “Ache for you”. Writes about female rejection (“Get Gotten”), and feels far away in “Close I’ve come”. As for the rest of the album, I shan’t even bother going into, suffice to say that Lee’s lyrics don’t exactly reek of Oxford. And perhaps that partly explains his appeal. What can be bland for some can in turn be bliss for others. The very fact his records continue to sell and resonate among his chic and chai drinking disciples, is a mystery worthy of Dan Brown. Ben Lee is no Bob Dylan. And on this album, dumb is indeed the new profundus.