Music > TV

Matt Bennett is best known as a not-quite kid actor (I'll let you do the Google). Not the sort of person who would be expected to put together a chaotically emotional album that evokes nothing less than Jad Fair fronting the Go-Betweens. Or, on occasion, Grant McLennan fronting Half Japanese.

Matt Bennett
Terminal Cases
This is one of the stranger concept albums I've heard, one that examines the divorce of Bennett's parents through the lens of Robin Williams films. As in, the songs have titles like "Moscow" (Moscow on the Hudson), "Hook" (Parts I and II), "Jumanji," etc. Bennett references the movies as he moves through the events and feelings of his own life.

Most Hollywood vanity music projects are slickly-produced and exceptionally dull. I'm not familiar with Bennett's acting work, but in any case, this album is neither slick nor dull. Bennett puts himself on the ledge with just about every song. Sometimes he falls, but often he gets back mostly alive.

Like the best one-man shows, this eccentric set is pure Bennett. He's got a very unusual songwriting ear, one that seems to push him to take chances. His least successful songs (to my ear) are his "me and a guitar" songs that emphasize his vocal and musical limitations. When he surrounds his thin voice with a band (and more), his lyrical strengths shine. This is not how things usually work, but Bennett is hardly normal.

I'm pretty sure I've never heard a TV actor come up with an album like this. I'd reference the Crispin Hellion Glover set from a couple decades back, but that was just weird. And generally bad. Bennett has fine ear for 80s-style indie pop, and he's not afraid to roam. I don't know where he goes from here, but this is a fine set.

Jon Worley

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