Music Reviews
Go Fly A Kite

Ben Kweller Go Fly A Kite

(The Noise Company) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Ben Kweller, once arguably the heir apparent to the solo artist indie rock throne, is back at it: Go Fly A Kite, an album marked by a long delay attributed to his departing from his record label, is exactly what you'd expect it to be.

See, listening to Go Fly A Kite isn't altogether a different experience from listening to, say, Sha Sha. Really, drop in a measure of maturity, and you've got this or, at least, something resembling it. Those signature vocals remain, the instrumentation isn't all too different, and things, as usual, move at a pace that's neither maddeningly slow or dangerously quick. It's that notch above plodding and below a steady trot.

As you'd imagine, the same sort of range Kweller's shown throughout his career is here. There are some stylistic variations throughout the album, but there's nothing particularly outlandish, and it's all tied together nicely with those vocals. That's on the verge of a problem, though: The instrumentation, all too regularly, takes a near back seat to the vocals, and while that's certainly fitting of his style, and he's made a genuine go at it, I can't help but think that maybe Go Fly A Kite lacks a bit of dimensionality as a result.

Perhaps it's that he's getting older — rather, I suppose, than remaining the same age or some such nonsense — but Go Fly A Kite lacks a certain spark. There's nothing here that's particularly ear-worm-worthy, which, I think, was one of his most valuable traits as a songwriter. His melodies were often outrageously infectious, and that's just not present in the same sort of way here. Sure, a couple tracks hit it just right, but by and large, once the album's over, it's not liable to pop back into my thinking.

Regardless, those melodic vocals are endearing, and it's hard to fault him too much for what's not an entirely exciting album. In fact, I'd hypothesize he lost a bit of spark by overworking things — moving to his own label meant he was able to take his time, and given that the release was nearly a year after its initially planned date, he took time to really fine-tune things. But fine-tuning only goes so far, and at a point, it becomes wearisome, ineffectual, or even detrimental — perhaps that's what we're seeing a bit of here.

That claim to the throne (which, thankfully, is metaphorical — I shudder at the thought of some sort of real throne in some run-down building that serves as a sometimes-indie-rock-venue) was long ago relinquished in the name of consistency. He might be rightly questioned whether the relative safety of his style has been wise, but it's certainly kept his fan base happy.