You might not know Benbo and that’s a shame. In between moving from London to Scotland and experimenting with a beard he has made a mini album, which aside from having an impressive cast of contributors is also a mighty fine collection.
It’s off-the-wall, funny, sad and experimental and manages, somehow, to gel the whole kit and caboodle together. Following a two second ‘title track’ intro, ‘Gravity Pulls Me Down’ (co-written with Dr Who writer A.K. Benedict) sounds like one of the Lightning Seeds’ finest songs and just like Ian Broudie, Benbo manages to sound upbeat whilst singing a song about a fall into depression. Its wonderful pop fodder and a track that surely deserves to be endlessly pumped out of mainstream radio.
Produced by Marta Salogni (Frank Ocean, MIA) and mastered by Mandy Parnell (Björk) and Bob Macciochi (DJ Shadow), Everything Is Fine doesn’t fail to impress and raise an eyebrow, or two. ‘F This’ has vocal roots in blues with a guitar pop backing in a Green Day style and ‘I’m A Taker’ more than tips a hat in the direction of Ray Davies. The later was recorded as far back as 2010 and is a beautiful declaration of devotion, commitment and failing love.
‘Temper’, co-written with Kat Five of the mighty Feral Five is a strangely additive number with a lazy almost pre-programmed beat style. Vocals are positively negative and strangely hypnotic and whilst the track is simple and uncluttered, it sounds amazing.
Another co-write appears in the form of ‘Lucky Escapes’ where Gr3n (Cathay Tapes) also produces, masters and mixes another wonderfully sparse piece. Occasional piano chords and an almost militarian percussion excerpt appear seemingly randomly in a gorgeously trippy dreamscape and ‘[Dream]’ provides a beautiful interlude into the incredibly high energy ‘Black Hole’ full of zipping basslines and more beeps and blips than you can shake a beepy-blip stick at.
As the twenty minute EP ends with the hilarious ‘Insufficiently Productive Economic Units’, seemingly a letter from a washing machine manufacturer explaining that they won’t replace a drum unit, it’s hard not to press ‘play’ once more and bask in the ups and downs of a quite wonderful find. Lo-fi, D.I.Y. or whatever you want to call it, Everything Is Fine is a lovely thing.
Review by Paul Scott-Bates