THE BENNIES - Natural Born Chillers

The Bennies - Natural Born Chillers

8 songs
24:08 minutes
***** ***
Uncle M


Coming from Australian city Melbourne, the Bennies have been releasing busily albums since the beginning of the decade, making Natural Born Chillers already their fifth longplayer, although that expression is stretching it a little at only twenty-four minutes running time. they define their genre as "psychedelic reggae ska doom metal punk rock from Hell", but again you might be just as satisfied by labelling this as ska punk, although of a higher quality.

Recently, I read an article about bands that have a sequence of three really great tracks on an album – like Michael Jackson with Thriller, Beat It and Billie Jean on his masterpiece from 1982 – and I dare say that this counts also for the first three tracks on the new album by The Bennies. The opener Get High Like An Angel, also the album’s first single, is a rare ska punk track that will make you sing along from the very beginning. The verse is snotty with just the right amount of brass instruments, and the guitar driven chorus takes it a step up with an unforgettable and especially catchy melody. The song ends on an electronic note, which is also one of the quartet’s trademarks. If the opener reminded me of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the following Dreamkillers has more in common with Rancid when they were at their best. The ska rhythm is fast and engaging, and some synth lines from a Korg add a cheesy Eighties arena rock touch that works surprisingly well in the context. This song’s electronic end flows seamlessly into the electronic opening of Destination Unknown, a song which once again starts slowly just to erupt soon enough into another great chorus. These first ten minutes of the album are absolutely amazing, as is the following title track, which takes it all a notch down with a certain reggae touch. Usually not my kind of music, but here it is the perfect little pause before things go wild again.

The second half of the album is also good enough, but only two songs really catch my attention. Ocean is really great at being a more aggressive song, and Apathetic Revolution goes a little in the direction of the first three songs. Not so great is Trip Report in which the musicians tell stories – spoken-word like – but nothing more is happening here and it’s get old after some time, especially as this is the album’s longest track at nearly four and a half minutes. The concluding Very Shit Carpet is a fast one minute short punk track, nice enough, but when the album ends after a mere twenty-four minutes, you really would have wanted more of the above.

The band’s name is fitting though: Bennies is a nickname for Benzedrine, which was a pharmaceutical drug containing amphetamine or colloquially speaking speed. The fast approach and the good humoured mood should make The Bennies’ music a must-have for every fan of rousing ska punk that sounds like the good old times from the Nineties when the genre was still fresh and unspent. If they made a whole album like the first trilogy of songs, this would have been a ten out of ten, but I subtract two points: one for the ridiculously short length, and one because two of the tracks are just not up too par. But apart from that, you get really great of really a lot of songs and music.

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