Columbus, Ohio’s very own Benji released a bedroom pop album as quirky as the band itself in September 2017, called “White Hot Pathetic Rage.” While many indie pop bands struggle to keep from sounding predictable, Benji’s 8-song record is anything but.
On the surface, “White Hot Pathetic Rage” is a textbook example of folky, lo-fi bedroom pop. After another listen, though, bits jump out that didn’t before – a tinny vocal echo in “Good Mourning,” the almost-physical heartbeat of “That Top Note.” It’s quirky, but certainly not weird enough to be unappealing to the average listener.
There’s no lack of intricacy throughout “WHPR,” shown especially in the light, tangy layering of guitar and syncopated rhythms in “Pink Guy.” With the number of different elements in each track, it seems like the sound would be too complicated, but there is just the right amount of substance. Songwriter and performer Ben Martindale knows exactly how to add the perfect touch to a song.
Faded yelling in “Phone Home” makes my chest ache, even though I can’t tell what is being said. Bold flute in “Spoonghetti” stands out, gliding over Sufjan Stevens-style lo-fi vocals. Unhurried, mildly fuzzy sounds in “What Bubbles Underneath” are indeed bubbly without being sickly-sweet. “The Train That Crosses Orange” ends the album on a disheartened sigh.
It’s entirely too easy to get lost in “White Hot Pathetic Rage,” an easy contender for my Top 10 of 2017. The too-short album glides by before you know it, leaving you wanting more quirky bedroom pop. Thankfully, though, you’re in luck: Benji’s first EP is on Spotify and Bandcamp as well, so there’s no shortage, and you can listen below: