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Awake Is the New Sleep

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Album Review

Like most musicians who make a splash in their teens, Ben Lee has had a hard time finding his footing in his twenties. First, his American record label, Grand Royal, closed after the release of his 1999 album Breathing Tornados, and then, during the first half of the 2000s, shifting pop trends — plus a general unspoken consensus that he was no longer a pop wunderkind now that he was in his twenties — pushed him out of the limelight. He managed to get an album out in his native Australia in 2002, a move that didn't get nearly as much attention in the U.S. as his 2003 breakup with celebrity girlfriend Claire Daines. So, approaching the halfway point of his twenties and the 2000s, Lee was adrift, but he managed to regroup, at least artistically, with his 2005 album Awake Is the New Sleep. Reteaming with renowned indie rock producer Brad Wood, who helmed his 1997 LP Something to Remember Me By, Lee returns to the gently melodic, tentatively introspective indie pop that marked his best work of the '90s, but there is a difference here. Where that record, along with much of his previous work, was marked by a shy innocence, Lee is older now. He's been through the wringer and has had his heart broken, and it's given his music a greater emotional resonance. That alone would have made Awake Is the New Sleep noteworthy, but what makes it stand alongside Something to Remember Me By as his strongest album is that he's written a strong, melodic set of songs and Wood has given them a colorful but unadorned production that gives each tune its own character. It's not a great change — he's still a gentle, low-key pop singer/songwriter in the vein of Evan Dando — but the subtle changes in tone and perspective make Awake Is the New Sleep a nice, low-key comeback and an album that proves that Lee is beginning to reach his musical maturation.

Customer Reviews

Not bad

I watched the ARIAs and then iTunes shop for Oz comes up and I decide to check it out. "Catch my disease" was quite catchy, I checked the 30 second samples for each track of the album and decided that most tracks had potential, so I purchase the whole thing. After listening for a while I think "Catch my disease" and "The debt collectors" are outstanding. "Light" and "I'm willing" appeal to me. But the rest are mostly junk in my opinion, three of the tracks are not even worth keeping. Note that I am not a hard core Ben Lee fan, this is my first experience of his stuff. Also most complete albums that you buy will have junk music on it. Some junk music grows on you, most don't.

Reaching The Sky

My first encounter with Ben Lee was one Saturday morning three years ago on Rage, when I heard his great song "Something Borrowed, Something Blue." I liked it so much I went out and bought the record. I played it over and over, and over, until I got sick of it. I then had a 'black period', where I didn't listen to Ben for ages. Yet the day the new record came out, I went straight out and got it, and I haven't looked back since. This is his most inner record yet, no doubt, and things are going to go better from here. I believe that as an artist, you normally have 1-3 albums where your just pumping out music, and then you have a few years off. When you return, you learn to appreciate the music, and this is what Ben has done. 'Catch My Disease' was the hit song, but if you think about it, the whole album is a hit, a whole 14 track one. Good on you Ben, keep it up, and do a duet with Missy on your next album - 'Laid' at Centennial Park rocked!

Ben Lee, Awake is the new sleep

I've had no trouble staying awake to listen to this new album from Ben Lee... This guy has lyrical skills of a graphic artist... He manages to creste a new image with each song as I was driving along... This guy is not scared to make his own style of music, and I appreciate that... This album moves freely from track to track without a weak song anywhere... I recommend this to anyone who wants fresh, young entertaining music...


Born: 11 September 1978 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australi

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

In a music culture dominated by bands, Ben Lee turned heads by being one of the youngest singer/songwriters to make an impression on the Australian music scene. Even before the launch of his solo career, Lee attracted attention in his teens as a member of the Sydney band Noise Addict. Following the band's demise in the mid-'90s, he...
Full Bio
Awake Is the New Sleep, Ben Lee
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Customer Ratings