It's always an exciting time in the Clark/Prew household when Australian band The Bennies release a new album. Particularly after getting to hear a new song the band have been working on their UK tour last year and we have been impatiently waiting for this release ever since. Finally, on February 2nd The Bennies released their fourth full length album, Natural Born Chillers, on their best buddies The Smith Street Band's new label Pool House Records. Enough with the introduction… it's time to party!
Natural Born Chillers begins with the song Get High Like An Angel. If you've never heard The Bennies before (what have you been doing!) then you won't know that the band flick between many genres including but not limited to ska, reggae, punk, dub, electronic and occasionally death metal. Because of this you can never be quite sure what you're going to get from a new album, other than knowing it's going to be a lot of fun, and there'll probably be some drug references from time to time. Get High Like An Angel manages to hit the ska, reggae, punk and electronic aspects of the band's sound. This might sound like it's all a bit much but The Bennies are experts in their craft and do an amazing job of bringing it all together to create something quite special. Something I've noticed more on recent Bennies albums is how the band have spread the vocal duties around more. This just adds even more to the party atmosphere. Bass player Craig's vocals are perfect for the more pop punk sounding chorus on this track. The second song, Dreamkillers, is the track we were fortunate enough to hear on the band's UK tour last year. It's an upbeat and positive song about following your dreams no matter what the naysayers might say. The opening lines sum this up perfectly as lead singer Anty sings "Break away from people that destroy you, chase your dreams and do what you wanna do." In true Bennies fashion you can't help but want to dance when you listen to the song, heck - I'm having a little bop in my chair as I write this. Anty, Craig and guitarist Jules all share vocal duties on this manic party of a track.
The third song on the release is titled Destination Unknown. Things get started with some synths from Anty's korg keyboard before more of an indie punk sound really gets the song going. The track doesn't travel at the same high tempo pace that we're usually used to from The Bennies. It's actually much more of a restrained and thought provoking song than I can ever remember the band writing. It's about a special place where everyone can belong and feel safe to be themselves no matter who they are. Sounds like a great place. The album's title track comes next. Natural Born Chillers is a superb reggae pop song. Naturally this is the type of song where you can imagine yourself hanging out in your back garden on a warm summers evening with your pals singing along to this song. The track is quite horn heavy and it makes me wonder if when they perform this live they will draft in some horn players or will rely on a backing track. This song is about feeling completely relaxed whilst you are high. Things hit their peak on the chorus when there are some really joyous gang vocals. The fifth song is named Ocean. After the chilled out reggae of Natural Born Chillers, Ocean picks up the pace and aggression (aside from some Beach Boys-esque "woooo-oooohs"). Anty's vocals hit hard from the beginning of the song, like an alarm clock after you've just had the most relaxing sleep. I love these rare occassions when The Bennies explore the harder punk rock side of their sound. Anty screams and snarls as good as anyone and the contrast with Jules' more friendly vocal on the chorus is just great.
Trip Report is one of the most interesting songs on Natural Born Chillers. Switching between spoken word and the most infectious, ear-wormy, as catchy as the common cold chorus you'll ever hear. It's about a night out after taking a load of shrooms and the escapades that occurred. The song is definitely a grower, on the first listen through I was thinking "what on earth is going on!?" but it doesn't take long to find a way into my heart. The spoken word narrative of the song is actually a fantastic listen and you'll be singing the chorus for days and days and days and then a few more days after that. The penultimate song is named Apathetic Revolution. High tempo ska party punk is the name of the game here, The Bennies speciality. It will have you skanking and moshing in equal measure, even if you don't really want to. That's the power of The Bennies music that is. It's a political song about feeling fed up with the downward spiral that the world appears to be going in and it looking like there's no way out. The Bennies do that thing of taking what is quite a downbeat topic and making you smile in a song. I've always thought that these types of song are very important. The upbeat nature is what hooks you in and then you'll listen to the lyrics and learn things. The eighth and final song on Natural Born Chillers is the fifty-seven seconds long Very Shit Carpet. This is a straight forward punk rock tune that feels very Jeff Rosenstock in delivery. There's that charming sloppiness that makes the song feel like a party. There are great gang vocals to start the song before Jules' gruff voice takes us on a high tempo ride through the song. This is a more simplified version of The Bennies that is just excellent.
Natural Born Chillers is another superb album from The Bennies. It's no wonder they continue to gain lots of fans all over the world as they keep putting out superb records full of fantastic songs that you can't help but fall in love with. Natural Born Chillers is perhaps a little short as it is only eight songs long but each song really hits all the buttons. It's certainly all killer and no filler.
Stream and download Natural Born Chillers here: https://thebennies.bandcamp.com/
Like The Bennies here: https://www.facebook.com/thebenniesband
This review was written by Colin Clark.