Ben Davis Aided & Abetted

Ben Davis is accustomed to playing with other musicians in such projects as Sleepytime Trio and Bats & Mice, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he finds it hard to play all by himself. Aided & Abetted is Davis’s first solo album in a couple of years, although considering the number of additional musicians that came along for the ride, this is hardly a solo affair. Sixteen other people (including members of the Comas, Engine Down and Jennyanykind) also played on the album, plus an additional six producers worked their magic on the 12 songs, yet it doesn’t have the disjointed feel that could be expected from such a large assembly. Some contributions are more important than others, with the sweet backing vocals of Aimee Argote providing some of the record’s best moments. But the main problem is that there are only really two kinds of songs on the album and one of them is much better than the other. The lusher, more melancholic tracks that are built around multilayered harmonies and psychedelic guitars are much more appealing than the heavier songs, which just aren’t catchy enough. Perhaps Davis’s social inclinations got the better of him on Aided & Abetted, but if he could invite less people to the party, we could all have a more enjoyable time. (Lovitt)