Ben Kweller, Ben Kweller

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Though he ascended to relative stardom early in his life, helming the band Radish at age twelve, Ben Kweller has never fallen prey to the full-on flameout that often follows child stars. After a number of false starts he returns with this self-titled record, his first for the ATO label and the first on which he played every instrument. What's surprising is that the record isn't suffocating or indulgent; instead, Kweller concentrates on songcraft, writing songs rooted firmly in melody. His "Thirteen" is comparable to the Big Star song of the same name, an aching memoir of teenage longing and hopefulness. "Sundress" moves from stark opening to gently chugging chorus while "This is War" is all snarl and sneer. Though he's already crammed two careers into his relatively short life, Ben Kweller still sounds like he's just getting started.