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Ben Browning – Lover Motion EP

on April 19, 2012, 7:58am

Australian bassist Ben Browning wrote most of his debut EP Lover Motion before he joined Cut Copy pre-Zonoscope. Comparisons to his current company are inevitable and warranted — and unfortunately illustrate just how far short he falls from achieving the electronic bliss of Cut Copy’s lead man Dan Whitford, who did some keyboard programming for this album.

Browning’s voice is serviceable but pinched, and his lyrics sound like drunken profundities that should’ve been wadded and tossed after inspection under the harsh light of a morning hangover. There’s some confusion about finding “a word for these mistaken images” and also the observation that “this town is full of roads and simplicity.” Huh?

Weak vocals and dead-end lyrics aside, however, the music on Lover Motion is a gorgeous, glossy slice of 1970s dream pop and slow-sex jams. Architecture in Helsinki members Gus Franklin and Haima Marriott produced the EP, and it flows effortlessly from song to song, feeling above all cohesive. Opening single “I Can’t Stay” washes in like a golden beam of sunlight, warm and assured of itself. Everything falls into place here: epic melodies, shimmering synthesizer, guitar lines so ropey and thick you could swing off them. Browning may come off as a bit of a lyrical idiot, but when he sings, “We can drive around for hours if you’ll come with me,” yeah, what the hell, you’d go along with him.

This is not music for thinking, anyway. Two of the best tracks on the album are instrumentals. “Night Dunes” evokes Air circa The Virgin Suicides soundtrack, all slippery and dazed. “Bullet Island”, cinematic in scope and slightly sinister, spins rapidly into bold, cascading arpeggios.

It’s impossible to determine whether Lover Motion is more influenced by Cut Copy or the other way around, but the EP at least gives indication that Cut Copy is not only a product of Whitford’s genius. Browning, as faltering as he is at times here, clearly has a lot to give musically.

Essential tracks: “I Can’t Stay” and “Bullet Island”

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