Ben & Jason

Goodbye

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Having started their musical partnership in 1999 with Hello, Ben & Jason part ways in 2004 after this, their final album, Goodbye. If their immediately preceding effort, Ten Songs About You, saw the duo slightly stumbling, Goodbye's minimalist formula and strong songwriting sees a return to the sense of vigor that infused Emoticons. While nothing here quite catches the ear like Emoticons, these nine songs pack a potent emotional punch. The lads and producer Tom Aitkenhead gracefully frame the album with delicate pianos, mournful cellos, yearning acoustic guitars, and sometimes eerie electronic dissonance. While this pert instrumentation makes for a lush sonic undercurrent, it's Ben Parker's touching falsetto and Jason Hazeley's deep vocal counterpunch that steal the show. Parker mines a territory that frequently recalls Thom Yorke's stunning delivery on "Fake Plastic Trees." Even when he's singing goofy lyrics that "Mr. America loves you" or about feeding orphans, his tender tones reveal the passion that the lyrics misplace. Goodbye rarely rocks out, and when it does, it's in a vein similar to Jeff Buckley's "Grace," or in a folksy or pop-inspired fashion akin to Neil Finn or the Devlins. And as songs from those artists have cropped onto film and television soundtracks, one would imagine just about any of these songs perfectly suited to the soundtrack of a romantic comedy or drama. Or at the very least serving as the soundtrack to the love lives of its listeners. Goodbye is a classy and seemingly heartfelt conclusion from a duo that, as the saying goes, deserved a larger audience.

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