Brendan Benson My Old, Familiar Friend

Brendan Benson My Old, Familiar Friend
These days, Brendan Benson is better known for the company he keeps rather than his music. As one of the Raconteurs, with Jack White, he's seen more of the spotlight via that association than the three impressive albums he released during the past decade. And based on album number four, My Old, Familiar Friend, he might have been keeping his best songs for himself. At its best, My Old, Familiar Friend is a glorious pop record that's the equal of the best Matthew Sweet or Jason Falkner have to offer. Opening with the wonderful "A Whole Lot Better," it barely puts a foot wrong in its first half despite jumping playfully between styles. But that lack of flow between subsequent songs begins to grate, add a tendency towards overproduction and that makes for a slightly disappointing ending. Perhaps Benson is getting too accustomed to having someone else around to tell him when he's showing poor judgement. Or maybe he's spreading himself a little too thin with multiple projects, but considering just how good its predecessor was, My Old, Familiar Friend is lacking that certain something and isn't the classic he's been threatening to make. (Maple)