Album of the Week
BENEE - LYCHEE EP
Welcome to Pilerats Album of the Week! Every Friday morning we’ll be digging into our favourite record to drop that week, as well as a big wrap up of everything else we’ll be bumping for the next while. Kicking off in typical atypical Pilerats fashion, our debut Album of the Week is… an EP.
In the space of just a year, Stella Rose Bennett AKA BENEE went from dropping a little old track called Suapalonely, that became the unofficial 2020 lockdown anthem, to huge appearances on Fallon and Ellen, to dropping her acclaimed debut album, Hey u x… And rightfully becoming an internationally recognised and respected artist in the process, known for her unique take on addictive genre-blurring pop. Fast forward to early 2022, and after a string of singles, she’s back with the diverse, deviceful and all around dope LYCHEE EP (that we caught up with her to find out all about recently).
Weighing in at seven tracks, LYCHEE was crafted both home and away for BENEE, with three of the tracks recorded at home in New Zealand with frequent collaborator Josh Fountain, while she wrote and recorded the other four on the other side of the world in L.A. Once again working with hip-hop production legend Kenny Beats, BENEE also jumped in the studio with Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Beck) and Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend)... Just reading those credits gives an idea as to the diversity to expect.
EP opener and recent single Beach Boy kicks the EP off with irresistible indie-pop vibes, with a summery guitar line running throughout alongside head-nod inducing drums and big, happy key chords… the track also potentially lures you in with a false sense of what to expect for the rest of the LYCHEE (in the best way!). As soon Beach Boy ends, we’re greeted with deep, swelling synth pads and a cheeky little processed vocal sample to kick off Soft Side, before BENEE’s heavily vocoded vocals cut through the mix - sounding about as different to the previous track as possible while still being… BENEE. A commanding sub heavy synth bassline and open hi-hat enter the fray before giving way to a four-to-the-floor kick drum and snares on the second - yeah, it’s house time! BENEE’s manipulated vocals + jackin’ house = yes please. It also leaves you with no idea as to what could be next...
Next? Next, is just about the catchiest damn indie pop song I’ve heard all year, in the form of Hurt You Gus. We’ve got another earworm bassline on our hands here, this time though coming from an electric bass guitar paired with a nonchalant drumbeat. In come BENEE’s ethereal, reverb-drenched vocals, before the high-freq guitar line comes in - annnddd then that chorus. A synth complimenting the guitar melody pops out of nowhere, before the next verse and the cherry on top of a ridiculously catchy composition - the subtle counter melody that sounds like it’s come straight from the studio of Boards of Canada. Things slow down just a tad to allow for a deep inhale with Never Ending, one of the most genre-melding tracks on the release. A melancholic, alt-rock track soon gives way to a trappy betler of a beat, with BENEE’s vocoded vocals effortlessly hovering just above the beat.
Now we get to Marry Myself, and we’re back with a deceptive opening giving way to a completely unexpected genre. A shimmering guitar line and BENEE’s husky vocals greet us, as does a percussion loop that gives us a hint as to where we’re going next… it’s chill drum and bass time, because of course. The vibrant guitar and D&B drums make a winning pair, while BENEE tells a tale of eschewing traditional proposals. Shifting gears once again to exquisite and elegant indie pop is Doesn’t Matter, before we get to the epic EP closer - Make You Sick. Originally a grandiose nine plus minute hidden track on her debut album, this Kenny Beats production needed an official release and so here it is - a dark, melodic, avantgarde trappy journey into BENEE’s musical mind, and I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to finish off LYCHEE.
I equally have no idea and can’t wait for what’s next from BENEE.
The best of the rest of this week's records:
Babehoven - Sunk [Double Double Whammy]
Indie / Folk
Jordan Rakei - Bruises [Ninja Tune]
R&B / Soul
KAINA - It Was A Home [City Slang]
R&B / Soul
Kojey Radical - Reasons to Smile [Asylum Records]
Nilufer Yanya - PAINLESS [ATO Records]
Alt Rock / Indie
RZA & DJ Scratch - Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater [MNRK Music Group]
Smoke DZA - Driplomatic Immunity [RFC Music Group]
supernowhere - Skinlesss Takes a Flight [Topshelf Records]
The Weather Station - How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars [Fat Possum Records]
Indie / Folk
Your Old Droog - YOD Wave [Nature Sounds]