While Brendan Benson may be more widely known for standing in the shadows of Jack White during his time in The Raconteurs, he has been popping out solo albums long before the collaboration was ever thought of. Back with his fifth studio album, produced by his own hand in Nashville, Tennessee, he follows in the footsteps of Rock legends Foo Fighters and gaining possible influences from band mate and friend, White, Benson has ditched the digital in favour of recording in analogue.
'What kind of World' sees Benson stick to his old guns while stretching his legs into some unfamiliar territory. In unusual opening style, the Michigan born songwriter guides us in with prominent drum beats and darkened melodies, while taking us on a journey through some of his lower days. Benson has always had an art of disguising melancholy with uplifting harmonies and pop-rock driven, catchy choruses and this record is no different.
True to form, Benson’s writing style tells tales of woe from a man fighting for something he can’t have, or not wanting something he fought for, which makes for one of the most likable things about him - his being relatable. The album's first single 'Bad For Me' displays piano that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Elton John tune and a chorus that is easily comparable to Bowie’s 'Life on Mars' (one of Benson's own heroes), with the same use of twinned vocals and it’s equally as infectious.
This album touches base with several genres, treating us to an eclectic mix of sounds, straying out of his rock-pop comfort zone. Expect lashings of lightly layered electro, complimenting female vocals and sturdy rhythm. There is a real 90’s, Bluetones feel at times, while “No One Else But You” starts up like a 70’s love ballad before it turns a little 'Sgt. Pepper'. Benson draws the record to a close in an out-of-the-blue fashion with “On The Fence”, a sweet country track - almost paying tribute to the birthing place of this 12 tracked baby.
Benson doesn’t colour outside the lines with this one, and it isn’t one hundred miles away from anything we’ve ever heard before but after a third or fourth listen you’ll find yourself smitten with the record.