“As heavy and gnarly as it sounds at times, it is unmistakably a pop masterpiece.” So explains Australian folk-pop-alterna-rock act Ben Lee as to why he covered Against Me!‘s recent release, New Wave.
The title track starts off with lyrics that are insanely appropriate for what Ben Lee set out to do – “we can control the medium/we can control the context of presentation” – and succeeded in doing by stripping down the rough guitars and gravelly vocals of Against Me! and delivering the songs in his own, softer way.
On “Stop!”, Lee delivers the vocals in a laid-back, conversational manner that fits the disco-folk instrumentation. Where Against Me!’s version of “Americans Abroad” has a bit of a righteous punk slant, Lee gives it a country feel and puts an interesting spin on the lyrics and achieves a slight feeling of alienation – “while I hope I’m not like them, I’m not so sure”.
With its propulsive melody and sing-along-worthy “bah dah”s, “Thrash Unreal” naturally lends itself to the project, its melancholic pop perfectly suited for Ben Lee’s style.
On “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart” Lee’s lush acoustic sound melded with piano bests Against Me!, coming so naturally to Lee that he could have easily penned it during his darker early years.
The only complaint on the record comes with “The Ocean”. Though it starts strong with cavernous vocals and an ominous opening, it goes out with Lee doubling up on vocals – one singing, one screaming. The screaming sounds strained and the song would have been better served had he gone to the opposite end of the spectrum and done a haunting whisper instead.