Stones Throw Records
When I opened my inbox and saw the email that was staring right back at me, I had two quick thoughts race through my mind. Who is Benny and can he sing? As it turns out Benny is Dutch producer and songwriter Tim van Berkestijn and boy, can he ever sing. As Benny Sings, Berkestijn has released seven studio albums as well as worked with the likes of Rex Orange County, The Free Nationals, P.J. Morton, Mayer Hawthorne, among many others and can count Anderson Paak, John Mayer and Rita Ora as big fans of his work.
With this pedigree it was interesting to not recognize his name right away and after an initial listen to Berkestijn’s latest album, Music which drops April 9th via Stones Throw, it was a bummer not to have found him out sooner. The album is a blast. Berkestijn’s songs all traipse down the sunnier side of the street and with a roster of guests such as Mac De Marco, Cautious Clay and Los Angeles based rapper KYLE, the whole proceedings are simply a wonderful time.
The album sets the pace immediately with the loosely Motown inspired “Nobody’s Fault”. Right off the bat you notice Berkestijn’s voice which is remarkable in it’s smoothness and its nasal sincerity. Honey drenched synths drift in and out of the song’s languid groove punctuated by a soft bass line and Berkestijn’s fetching vocal melodies. “Sunny Afternoon” sounds just like the name implies, a little woozy but just properly paced to skip down the sidewalk too. “Rolled Up” features Mac Demarco and some chirping birds, which help to accentuate the sunshine-y daytime vibe of the record. The bass line absolutely slinks all over the track and it’s a real pleasant surprise to hear how well Berkestijn and DeMarco sound at home together here. “Lost Again” has echoes of Paul Simon mixed in with the record’s already established 70s soul feel. Berkestijn’s production is completely on point. He tends to paint his arrangements with a very digital sounding brush. Everything is so crisp, clean and minimal, which highlights the simple pleasures of his songwriting. Album highlight “Kids” is a great example of this. It’s a veritable hook fest and the guest turn from KYLE adds a nice change of pace from what has come before. With just some plinking electric piano and stuttered start and stop drumming, Berkestijn’s clever arrangement allows you to focus on the actual song instead of having your headphones filled with a ton of studio trickery.
Listening to Music is like palling around with a friend on a nice day and just shooting the shit. It feels all very familiar and comfortable but it is never boring, nor does it ever wear out its welcome. Benny Sings may have just made the first summer record of the year and with the warmth and optimism that radiates out of every song featured here, throwing on Music can make it feel like summertime, any time of the year.
Pre-order Music by Benny Sings via Stones Throw Records HERE