As the 2010s wind down, there’s an undeniable sense of avant-gardism impacting indie rock, and for those in search of a prime example of this growing trend, I’d point towards Bencoolen’s new single “Give It Up.” Both the music video for the song and the original recording itself are primed with a surreal mix (with the video’s version of the track running almost a full minute longer), but production wizardry has little to do with the music’s charm. Bencoolen approach melodies with a steady hand in “Give It Up,” and while they fail to capitalize on several opportunities to give us an eruptive fever pitch, I don’t believe that they were trying to develop something particularly bombastic or stadium-shaking in this latest release. Their style of play is quite conservative yet beholden to a jazzy experimentalism that makes it feel as though we’re on a rollercoaster, unaware of what twists and turns lie in the tracks ahead. It’s tailored more for the audiophile than the average Joe, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you love fresh alternative music as much as I do.
The framework of this song is rooted in a 70’s-style soul, with the obvious surface layers utilizing heavy alternative rock guitar tones to create as much of a grind in the strings as there is in the percussion, and though some elements work a lot better than others, every component feels fairly balanced in the grander scheme of things. The guitar solo explodes through the bassline like a wrecking ball crashing into a solid brick wall, and though the sax parts that follow go through what I can only assume is a crude flange filtration that I could have lived without, the harmony they create is still a chilling one.
“Give It Up” was clearly not conceived with mainstream consumption in mind, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s perfectly fine. It’s positive in that Bencoolen are essentially confirming their non-interest in selling out, and perhaps a bit negative only when analyzed through a commercial-minded lens. In short, I take it that this band is more focused on making good music than they are making music that will sell to a multitude of audiences, which is something listeners should respect more than they probably will.
It’s hardly the most accessible song that I’ve reviewed this year, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that Bencoolen’s “Give It Up” wasn’t a really entrancing track worthy of the attention it’s been getting as of late. The 2020s are right around the corner, and with the momentum that Bencoolen are building at the moment, I think they would be wise to consider breaking off a follow-up to this year’s Daydream LP a lot sooner than later. There’s a strong bond between the musicians comprising this group’s lineup, and if they continue to steer clear of the mainstream blueprint and adhere to their own set of standards through the next couple of years instead, I can see them gaining a cult following with the potential for even more down the line. I myself am impressed with this release and definitely intend on staying tuned for more.
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