Alternative | Indie | Pop | R&B
BENEE was a name that sounded familiar when I discovered this brand new album on Spotify’s new releases. But after doing a little digging, I realised that this artist was one who’s 2019 EP I nearly reviewed.
I had first bumped into BENEE through STELLA & STEVE, which is the title of the 2019 EP I speak of. I found it to actually be a really solid 5 track project, but I believe it was mainly down to the time constraints towards the end of the year, that I ended up not having the chance to properly review it.
And that would prove to be the last moment my attention was fully on the New Zealand singer/songwriter, up to the point where this album was released. Upon the first listen however, I did indeed recognise the track “Supalonely” as both a track found on the STELLA & STEVE EP, and a frequent radio play that definitely felt at home in that environment.
And despite my need to familiarize myself once more with BENEE and her music recently, I was actually very excited to see how her bright and quirky style of pop would translate into her debut studio album, titled Hey u x.
To start things off, the versatility that comes as a result of having such an aesthetic definitely shows on the album. However, it’s not too chaotic either. Pretty much every track carries enough of a sense that they are unmistakably BENEE-made, that they don’t effect the presence of the project negatively at all. But by being as versatile in mood as they are, it allows Hey u x to be exciting at almost every turn.
Speaking of the versatile range of mods that Hey u x has, each of them is done an incredible justice, with the vast majority of them carrying a brilliantly atmospheric and soothing vibe. With this considered, I almost wish that this album was released earlier, so that I could let the album’s colourful sounds fully soak me in the warmer months. But on the flip-side, Hey u x is the kind of album that really ramps up my anticipation positively towards the next summer. And in times like these, that’s an incredible quality for an album to have.
And while I was very impressed with the diverse palette of different sounds, I was equally impressed with the list of featured artists that are found on this album too. Of course we have Gus Dapperton, who had featured on “Supalonely” since day 1, but the fact that I enjoyed his recently released album Orca, did indeed elevate my appreciation of that track considerably more. But on Hey u x, artists such as Grimes, Lily Allen, Kenny Beats, Bakar, and more make a guest appearance.
I felt that the only anxiety I felt going into this album, was that it would carry a lo-fi quality which would make it feel like a less refined project. However, in the many highlights that Hey u x has, I was incredibly impressed with the layering, depth and textures that could be found. I would say that the closest the album came to feeling like a shallow experience is the mid-section. However, there was not a single track on this thing that I didn’t find at least mostly enjoyable.
In short, I not only think that this album feels like a colourful defining moment of 2020, but may even transition into being an album that I’ll enjoy listening to even more in 2021. But even in the here and now, it is a project that is bursting with whimsical and exciting sounds that had me engaged in an incredibly sentimental way.
Favourite Tracks: Happen To Me | Sheesh | Night Garden | If I Get To Meet You
Least Favourite Track: All The Time
Republic Records | UMG Recordings