Record Review 

The career trajectories of Australian Ben Lee and Texan Ben Kweller are similar enough for them to be kin. Both Bens were enormously successful with bands they fronted while still in high school (Noise Addict and Radish, respectively), and subsequently moved to New York to establish careers as singer/songwriters. Of the two, Lee was the quicker start, but when Grand Royal folded in 1999 shortly after the release of his third album, Breathing Tornados, his career momentum stalled. Lee's fourth album, Hey You. Yes You, available on import, followed the lead of Tornados, embellishing his simple pop songs with a flurry of electronic effects, courtesy of Dan the Automator.

For his fifth album, Lee returns to stripped-down singer/songwriter mode. He leaves the bouncy, power pop and rock he favored early in his career for something more sophisticated and sedate, similar to Ben Folds. Unfortunately, Lee's usually catchy, simple songs suffer from a lack of energy and pace, exposing their weak lyrical underbelly. Quiet and reflective, the sincere Lee isn't goofy enough to be Jonathan Richman or harrowing enough to warrant comparisons to Elliott Smith; instead it kind of lays there, pleasantly placid, not intriguing enough to be disturbed.

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