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By now, in one way or another, you have heard a song by Bentcousin, who have been churning out catchy, retro-styling pop music for three-plus years. Headed by twins Amelia and Patrick Murray, the five-piece have finally released their self-titled, debut album. Bentcousin is exactly what you would expect from the London-/Brighton-based group – a fun, rambunctious album that channels the lovable pop of the ’60s, shimmering disco-pop of the ’70s, and the quirky ballads of the ’80s.
They weren’t alone in creating this album, however. For the past 18 months or so, they’ve engaged a number of artists to assist them with their projects, and these collaborations have enabled them to explore new realms. One of their most notable collaborators is Guiville, with whom they’ve released several singles in the past. The do-everything producer makes his mark on the album’s grooviest and most infectious track, “The Last One”. With the great harmonies of the Murrays and Guiville’s deft production work, the single is for all those 30- and 40-somethings who grew up on John Hughes movies. Break out the perms, the denim jackets, and the converse shoes, and sing along to this jangly ’80s tune.
On “Where Do I Belong“, they engaged London-based producer Lo Fye and Houston-based rapper Lord Gabe to create an awesome darkwave-newwave track. The single is Bentcousin’s darkest and most bleak song they’ve released, yet it is immersive and haunting. It echoes of mid-career Depeche Mode (think 1993’s Songs of Faith and Devotion) with the stark electronic echoes and the deadening vocals provided by Amelia and Lord Gabe. “Freak Scene”, which has Kerwood in the production chair, the band rewinds the timeline to the early ’80s to create a sultry newwave, synth-pop tune. You might hear traces of New Order with the shimmering keys and synths.
With “Rock & Roll Me”, which has producer Alcatraz Electro in the supporting role, they spin a tasty electro-disco tune, channeling the great Donna Sommers, whom they acknowledge throughout the track. This breezy number bleeds of the foggy ’70s and the disco craze that took hold across the world. It’s the perfect track if you’re planning on hosting a retro night.
Not all the collaboration are electronic based. With Hannah & Oorlab, Bentcousin head down an indie-folk path on “HID”. The track demonstrates the band’s versatility, as this stripped down tune is easy on the ears and just a pleasant three minutes. More importantly, however, it showcases the Murray siblings’, namely Amelia’s, maturing songwriting skills. Here, they cannot hide behind sweet-sounding melodies and booming harmonies, but instead they the story must carry the song.
For “Widening The Vision”, they join forces with long-time musician and The Clash co-founder Keith Levene, and not surprisingly this is the album’s rocker. Echoing of ’70s and ’80s guitar-driven rock ‘n roll – think somewhere between Lou Reed, The Clash, and Pulp – the band takes a backseat to Levene’s scorching guitar work. Now that’s one heck of a collaboration.
When left to their own devices, Bentcousin return to the groovy retro pop-rock of their origins. The opening single, “Fuck The Queen”, is a melodic post-punk tune that could be the sequel to the Pixies’ “God Save The Queen”. “Baby, You’re My Jesus” is one cool, lo-fi, ’70s rock tune, recalling the brilliance of The Velvet Underground & Nico – although with a more gorgeous harmony. “Everything Is Everything” epitomizes Bentcousin’s early beginnings – an unpretentious, fun tune with some clever lyrical work. The interplay between the two siblings is playful and even humorous, and given the storyline it might bring to mind the great relationship movies of the ’80s, like When Harry Met Sally.
But unlike that famous scene from the movie, there’s nothing fake about the orgasm you’ll feel when hearing Bentcousin’s reinterpretation of classic genres. Bentcousin is a trip down memory lane, except that Amelia, Patrick, Fintan, Jonny, and Dan are making it livelier and filled with much better stories than what was written 40, 50 years ago. Bentcousin is intelligent and even ingenious at times, fun and even adorable, and just one out-righteously good album. Heck, when you are getting Keith Levene to collaborate with you, you know you’re doing something awfully right.
Bentcousin is available now via Team Love Records. Expect the band to be touring the UK over the spring and summer in support of the album. It would be cool if Keith Levene joined them.
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