Ben Kweller

If Beck were young and cute

Not many kids can say their high school band touched off a major-label bidding war. But it was after leaving Radish in the lurch at 17 that indie whiz-kid Ben Kweller made good on the hype with Freak Out, It's Ben Kweller, the first in a four-part series of increasingly infectious solo records. With lyrics that play like a head-on collision of quirky and heartfelt, more hooks than a pirate supply store, and a boyish charm that's always made him seem like Beck's kid brother, On My Way came on like Kweller peaking early in 2004. But the self-titled effort he's dropping on Tuesday, September 19, may be even better. Kweller plays every instrument himself this time, like Paul McCartney with a more authentic Beatles haircut. But what may be more impressive is that nearly every song feels like some great lost classic from the golden age of pop as filtered through growing up now, from the Spector-esque charms of "Run," the crush-pop track that kicks things off ("And when you sleep at night, I'll kiss you right between your eyes") to the melancholy dreaminess of "Nothing Happening."

 
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