Album Cover
Need New Body
Where's Black Ben?
5 Rue Christine
June 17, 2005


The majority of the appeal of UFO was how unpredictable and bemusing it was, which, true to form, are qualities Where's Black Ben? has in spades. At some point, UFO's unpredictable bemusement became meshed with its musical sometimes-genius, and so, upon starting Where's Black Ben?, and being hit immediately with the awe-inspiringly silly "Brite tha' Day", one would be forgiven for still affiliating the goofy humor with intelligent songwriting. Very shortly, though, you will find out that you are wrong (I am going to go ahead and say that the aforementioned "one" is most likely you, seeing as how it is no longer me). While Need New Body are still (increasingly self-consciously) silly, far too many of the songs are far more boring than anything falling under the pigeonhole of "spaz rock" (others have said it) has any right to be.

Where's Black Ben? is not, though, without its redeeming moments, some of which even come close to making up for the rest of the album. Opener "Brite tha' Day", to give credit to the aforementioned naïve listener, is a lot of fun, and "Poppa B" is kind of shocking, a touching little banjo folk oasis that Devendra Banhart could record without flinching. "So St Rx" is the same sort of stream-of-consciousness mini-travelogue as UFO's "Beach", a motif developing between the two of people being somewhere and enjoying that they are there. And closer "Eskimo" is the first time the album really sounds like it has its eyes open all the way, bolting through an absurdly catchy instrumental melody with enough precision to make you wonder if maybe you'd dreamed the rest of the album.

Meanwhile, though, "Magic Kingdom" and "Totally Pos Paas" are dull enough that even the irritating falsetto can't hold your attention. "Mouthbreather" is genuinely painful to sit through, playing like a Google image search for "silly", while "Who's This Dude?" is a blisteringly uninteresting puddle of electronic residue and tampered-with speech samples. "Outerspace" and "Inner Gift" are at least interesting, acheiving a serviceable free jazz freakout, but the whole latter segment of the album does nothing at all until the very end, and there's nothing more abjectly useless to society than a stagnant spaz.

Were the filler limited to brief, nonoffensive thirty-second tracks, as it was on UFO and as it is in the cases of "Tuthmosis" and "Pax-N-Alf", Where's Black Ben? would be a remarkable EP that I would not be disappointed in. It is not, though, and the album's few and far between moments of clear-eyed brilliance can not save it from being, in the end, fairly unpleasant to listen to in its entirety. I recommend UFO.

Noah Jackson

Track List

  1. Brite Tha' Day
  2. Magic Kingdom
  3. Totally Pos Pass
  4. Poppa B
  5. Mouthbreather
  6. Who's This Dude?
  7. Tuthmosis
  8. Outerspace
  9. Inner Gift
  10. Badoosh + Seagull War = Die!
  11. Peruvidia
  12. So St Rx
  13. Abstract Dancers
  14. Pearl Crusher
  15. Pax N Alf
  16. Juvie Girlz
  17. Ghost of Bistro
  18. Hair Funny
  19. Eskimo