reviewed by Anna Alger
Newcomer to the Toronto scene, Steve Benjamins, packs a honey voiced punch – or more of a gentle blow – with the eclectic pop featured on his latest EP, Sightlines.
Sightlines is direct from the get go, Benjamins’ clear voice inviting listeners into the stripped back instrumentation of the title track. The music has a meditative quality to it, featuring minimal percussion and gradually rolling synths. Benjamins’ vocal harmonies are warm and smoothly delivered. “We Used To Live” shows off Benjamins’ pop hook chops, the song’s driving chorus a homage to radio friendly, synth driven song. “Devotion” is led by soft piano and intricate vocal harmonies, enveloping the listener in cozy melody.
Similarly slow and careful is the lush “Steamroller,” a ballad which features languid piano and a defeated atmosphere communicated by the line, “You don’t think about me, you just steamroll me.” An urgency creeps up in the next track, “Exploding Boy,” soulful vocals and pounding drums carrying the song through to its abrupt drop back into the contained desperation of its verses. The EP closes with “Later On,” Benjamins’ vocals reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. The song is whimsical yet feels like more of a snippet than a complete ending to the album.
Steve Benjamins is looking into the distance with Sightlines, an EP whose music is wide and all encompassing: big picture pop. Displaying his capability at writing songs with opposing energies, Benjamins is certainly a compelling new voice within the independent music community.
Sightlines is available as a free download via Steve Benjamins’ website.
Top Tracks: “Sightlines,” “Devotion”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good) + *swoop*