Mature, introspective, bouncy punk-pop from the leader of Screeching Weasel? Songs titled “Truth And Beauty” and “Patience” and “Responsibility” from the guy who used to sing “I Wanna Be a Homosexual” and “I Hate Led Zeppelin” and “I Wanna Be Naked”? Truly: will wonders never cease? The snottiest punk in Chicago has gone and wiped his own nose, and looks kinda cute after all.
This is a real step forward for Ben Foster — um, I mean Ben Weasel. He’s finally shrugged off the Ramones-worship of all Screeching’s early stuff (well, mostly) and branched out into an interesting sound of his own: check the Irish folkie strum on the cover of Dave Davies’ “Strangers” and the Candy Apple Grey-isms of “Indecision.” It’s a tight little duo of a trio, with Dan Vapid (a former Screech-er) on guitars and bass and Matt from The Teen Idols on drums.
But it’s more than the music that makes this new. Weasel is operating on a whole new level lyrically than he’s ever done before. His songs are about refusing to “compete against friends and enemies / and those to whom I feel indifference” (wow) and “My point of view’s changing / slowly, it’s true / but now and then I see some beauty in the world” (double wow) and “I can be all the things that I hate / or I can choose to be all the things I love” (multi-wows, game over).
He does great catchy songs about meditation (“Water And Waves”) and about facing reality instead of running away from your own heart (“No Expectations”). It’s like a therapy session — except you can’t dance your ass off in a therapy session. I’ve tried. They don’t like it when you do that.
Ben Weasel turns out to be a really cool guy with a hilarious sense of humor (“I’ve got six guitars I can barely play / and a questionable singing voice as well“) and a newfound heart full of love and wonder. There’s nothing corny or hokey about that.
Ben Weasel: http://www.benweasel.com