With his critical stock continuing to rise, 23-year-old Ben Esser delivers his full-length debut, building on his well received ‘Satisfied’ and ‘Headlock’ singles (the latter recently awarded ClashMusic’s Single of the Week) on the ever crispy Transgressive Records.
Consolidating a life-long immersion in music, a flourishing talent and a shameless love of pop, Esser has taken his bedroom studio creativity and produced a prime exercise in modern British pop.
From meagre beginnings in a holiday camp covers act, a stint as drummer for the excellently named Ladyfuzz and committed battling through the initial lean years as a solo artist (losing many an instrument to Cash Converters in the process), young Ben has held on for the win and it’s clear ‘Braveface’ is his serious assault on pop stardom. Containing a wealth of ideas, admirably executed with many a killer hook, this debut is clearly a labour of love… but it’s not without its flaws.
His multi-tracked, multi-part vocal arrangements are certainly impressive, but unfortunately suffer from his sometimes overly nonchalant delivery. Sounding like a disinterested Carl Barat kinda trips up his efforts to become the new Prince – writing, playing and producing is an impressive display of talents, but he lacks the grunt and grind of the Minneapolis midget. He should maybe try necking a Viagra or two before heading into the vocal booth.
Thankfully he does more fully realise his potential in the beautifully constructed music. Fuelled by his love of eccentric UK producer Joe Meek he has created ten intricate and inventive mini masterpieces. Further kudos comes from the small detail that the album is essentially made up of his bedroom demos, polished up a little by producer Lexxx.
Highlights (outside the ‘to know them is to love them’ singles) include the haunted, layered ‘Bones’ and ‘I Love You’, where some impressively monster drums power a head-spinning cut ‘n’ paste chorus. Once a drummer, eh?
Despite some minor grumbles, Esser has produced a strong debut. You’ve got an artist poised to charm the masses, pockets bulging with potential mainstream fodder. With any luck the charts will be his. And that’s not even taking into account his suitably parent-baiting haircut.