Ben Lee

Deeper into Dream

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Recorded and self-produced at his Laurel Canyon home studio, Australian singer/songwriter Ben Lee's eighth studio album, Deeper into Dream, lives up to his recent claims that his days of "chasing alternative hits" are over. Indeed, other than the driving grunge of the contemplative "Get Used to It" and the Flaming Lips-esque alt-pop of "Pointless Beauty," little here is likely to trouble the ARIA charts in the same manner as 2005's commercial peak, Awake Is the New Sleep. Instead, the former Noise Addict frontman has come up with his most personal and darkest album to date, which, inspired by three years of dream analysis therapy, attempts to understand the power of the unconscious mind. It's an ambitious concept that, for the most part, Lee pulls off with ease. The title track is a gorgeous alternative lullaby underpinned by subtle strings and simple acoustic melodies; "Lean into It" is a disorienting and abstract fusion of ambient synths, furious violins, and Lee's stream-of-consciousness delivery; while the spellbinding "I Want My Mind Back" is lent an almost hymn-like air thanks to its atmospheric organ chords and hushed fervent chorus. However, the album's effortless ability to evoke the wooziness associated with its subject matter means that the several musical collages featuring various friends recalling their dreams ("My First Dream," "My Second Dream") feel slightly redundant. Rather wisely, there are a few more upbeat offerings that provide a respite from the prevalent hazy slumber vibes, such as the jaunty brass riffs and chiming glockenspiels on the baroque indie pop of "Indian Myna" and the breezy West Coast folk of "Glue." But Deeper into Dream is, ironically, far more captivating when it appears to want to send listeners to sleep.

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