Go Fly a Kite
By Al Kaufman
If Nick Lowe was the Jesus of cool of the 20th century, then Ben Kweller appears ready to take over the role for the new millennium. Kweller writes pure pop for now people. It’s tight and crisp without being trite. Every song on here sounds like a radio hit, but not one that you would grow sick of quickly.
Kweller opens Go Fly a Kite with “Mean To Me,” which immediately draws the Lowe comparisons. It’s great pop with smart lyrics and a touch of punk attitude. “Out the Door” begins sounding like an early Dylan rocker before morphing into some gorgeous Jayhawk harmonies. “Jealous Girl” has a certain Phil Spector wall of sound to it, complete with “whoa-oh-oh-oh” choruses.
If the album only contained those first three songs it would be worth the cost, but Kweller never lets up. “Full Circle” has more of an Americana sound that made up most of Kweller’s last album, Changing Horses. “Time Will Save the Day” offers up a garage rock style, while closer, “You Can Count On Me” is a jangly, upbeat ditty, even though it starts with the dark, “It’s a sad day ’cause all my old friends have changed.” He then assures his friend that he has not changed and will always be there for her.
With lots of piano and guitars, Kweller has created a fluid sound even while dabbling in so many genres. But the greatest thing about Go Fly a Kite is the packaging itself. Kweller appreciates people who go out and buy the concrete item. The album cover can be turned into a diorama of a pleasant outdoor scene, which includes bands playing, mothers nursing, and skeletons throwing strawberries. In addition, Kweller not only encloses the lyrics, but the chords and keys of each song, so that people may play along at home. He understands that music is for the people. He’s a cool guy, who also happens to be one hell of a songwriter.