Ben Kweller

Ben Kweller (ATO Records)

Had Ben Kweller been alive and making music during the '70s, he would have made a killing writing theme songs for classic television shows. His best tracks feature catchy melodies that build and singsong choruses that just smack of we're-gonna-make-it-after-all optimism. One minute you want to cry, the next you want to jump triumphantly into the air and hope that someone freezes the frame. In that respect, the first half of Kweller's latest self-titled album fills the bill. Songs such as "Nothing Happening" and "Sundress" rank among his absolute best, with simple choruses like "I do everything you want me to" that are easy to envision being chanted back by entire stadiums. But the second half of the disc lags in a few places, particularly on the stale-sounding "I Don't Know Why" and "Magic." This album won't draw converts by the legions, but for Kweller fans, there's plenty here that will rattle around the skull for days. Like those damn catchy theme songs of yesteryear.

 
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