The Motor Car and The Weather Balloon  –  Ben Brookes (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Ben-Brookes-The-Motor-Car-The-Weather-BalloonI love the connectivity of the modern world. I love the fact that I was sent this album by the powers that be in Minneapolis when the guy in question hails from a town an hour away from me in the UK. You can say what you like about the faults and failings of the technology of this interconnected world but this is it at its anecdotal best.

The thing I love about this album is that even though this Portsmouth lad was whisked off to one of America’s most iconic music cities and surrounded by the great and good of that countries music, the mercurially named Motor Car and The Weather Balloon is an album with its sonic roots planted firmly in British music history. In turns the echoes of Bowie, The Kinks, The Beatles, Brit Pop and New Wave can be heard pumping through the veins of the music adding pathos and familiarity but the beating heart driving it is all quintessentially Ben.

We heard this delicate balance of forward thinking and musical respect being paid on the recent release Integration (Not Segregation) which now kicks off this album, but just as one swallow does not a summer make, one cracking single isn’t enough to carry a full album. Thankfully he wrote nine other songs of a similar stand out nature to go with it.

The Girl Who Cried Wolf drips with sweeping chamber pop majesty and dark resonance, I Want To Go Home bristles with pent up alt-pop energy and Shackles swathes itself with bitter-sweet melancholy. Pop seems too small a word for what is going on here, but that is the trouble with labels and the baggage they come with. But pop it is, in the same way that those classic acts listed above are pop, pop forged from depth and precision, pop with integrity and imagination, pop with a PhD!

The fact that Ben Brookes has managed to not only capture all of that on his debut album but present a suite of songs which passes the ear like a career spanning retrospective or best of collection only makes you wonder what the hell is he going to do next! Whatever it is I’m pretty sure eyebrows will be raised, ears will be grateful and socks will be well and truly blown off.

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