Where as the last album in many ways harkened back to some of his softer acoustic albums (Something To Remember Me By and his solo debut Grandpaw Would), Ripe has a more polished and produced feel to it more akin to Hey You. Yes You and Breathing Tornadoes. Although Ben's guitar is still there, it's not at the forefront as in previous albums, rather a more prevalent percussion sound carries the tunes. Still present though is Ben's characteristic penchant for writing catchy pop tunes with a irresistible sense of humor.
Opening the album is Love Me Like The World Is Ending, an upbeat love ballad that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It's got a very positive relationshipial vibe to it which celebrates new love. Next up, American Television, which is being featured on ABC's website and is reminiscent of his older song poking fun at American TV, Household Name. (Give me sex and give me patience, I can't wait...change the station) Ben again draws attention to American culture with What Would Jay-Z do, an ode to one of Ben's personal heroes. The album closes with the title track, an acoustic ditty which is my favorite from the album, and not just because it uses the word quesadilla in the lyrics. Not only is it an intensely romantic song about finding the person you should be with and going after them, I think it does a good job of summing up what has happened with Ben's musical abilities.
I could go track by track, but suffice to say, I think Ripe is a solid follow-up to his last album. Also in the works is Ben Lee: Catch My Disease, a documentary seven years in the making by his friend Amiel Courtin-Wilson, which should be out next year and includes interviews with Liz Phair, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and many others. Enjoy the following tracks, and make sure to get the album on the 18th. If you can't wait, a three track EP is available on iTunes or you can download Ben's complete album cover of Against Me!'s New Wave on his website.
Ben Lee - Numb : Ripe
Ben Lee - Ripe : Ripe
Ben Lee - Household Name : Something To Remember Me By
Ben Lee - My Turntable : Away With The Pixies EP
Ben Lee - Girls Talk (Elvis Costello cover) : Cigarettes Will Kill You single
Ben Lee - Shoplifters of the World Unite (Smiths cover) : Live on KCRW