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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Lee’s new album ‘Ripe’ with catchy pop songs

Take one listen to Ripe, the sixth release from Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee, and you will surely be grinning from ear to ear.

After the success of his 2005 release, Awake Is The New Asleep, where he moved toward a more pop-oriented sound from his indie-based past, Lee completely ditches his experimental side for a high-spirited, radio-friendly pop album.

Having been produced by John Alagia (John Mayer, Ben Folds and Dave Matthews Band), it’s no surprise how catchy the tunes are. From Ripe’s optimistic opening line, "This is the first day of the future / And all I want is you," to the closing title track, the album is filled with catchy hooks, lovely harmonies and woo-hoo’s in all the right places. Top that off with guest appearances from some of MTV’s favorite faces and a tribute to Jay-Z, the Hova himself, and you have one of the happiest albums of the year.

Lee’s recipe for pop music still contains some of his previously known ingredients. The opener, "Love Me Like The World Is Ending," retains his ability to write beautiful lyrics set to simple enough music to destine it for the CW network. The same can be said for tracks "Home" and "Just Say Yes," both stories about winning the heart of a girl.

Cameos from some of pop music’s top names help Lee spread the joy. The playful "Birds and Bees," a duet with Mandy Moore, will make you want to hold hands and skip through fields of wildflowers. "Sex Without Love" teams Lee with Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden and features a chorus reminiscent of Bon Jovi’s "You Give Love A Bad Name."

On the album’s seventh track, Lee asks himself, "W.W.J.D.?" This time, however, the "J" belongs to hip-hop mogul Jay-Z. "I want you to know my name / I want the hottest chick in the game," Lee announces as he searches for a way to be more like the ultra-successful rapper in this fun, easy-going tune.

Songs such as "So Hungry" and "Blush" carry a slower rhythm with clean crisp guitars and solid boy-girl harmonies while maintaining the romantic theme of the album in their lyrics. "Is This How Love Is Supposed To Feel" will have you convinced that you are listening to Ben Folds, a close friend of Lee’s, as the piano-based ballad ponders the next move of a love affair.

The album is so happy it’s almost obnoxious. That’s exactly how Lee wanted it, though.

"I’ve always believed that the best song in the world should be the catchiest and should be popular and should be the cleverest and the most soulful," Lee said in an interview with Spin magazine.

This is surely one of the catchiest albums of the summer, although summer is almost over. Lee could have done more with Ripe, but the simplest pop hooks were what he was trying to get. He definitely got them, but it may be a turn-off to fans who are looking for something different.

If you’re missing the experimental side of Lee’s music, fear not. He recently recorded an acoustic version of Against Me!’s entire New Wave album, which can be heard and downloaded on his Web site,

Ripe was released on New West Records, and is available in stores now.

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