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Ben Lee

The Rebirth of Venus (New West)

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The forgotten side of the Mary-Louise Parker-Billy Crudup-Claire Danes square of yore, Ben Lee's music has gotten steadily saccharine since the breakup that should've provided his best material. It drifted on Awake is the New Sleep (his last batch of uniformly strong songs), dipped on Ripe, and has disappeared beneath syrup with The Rebirth of Venus. "What's So Bad (About Feeling Good?)" he asks on the opening track, a fair question, but he torpedoes any goodwill with "I'm a Woman, Too." Music doesn't have to be downbeat to have worth, but it needs more than a transparent "fuck" thrown in for edge.

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