A horrible hack

Benjamin Shaw

I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got

Year Released: 2010
Format: CD
Label: Audio Anti-Hero
Reviewed by james pacanowski on Oct 22, 2010
Chalk up another victim of their own PR; press bumf can so often ruin something that is otherwise unobjectionable. The promo sheet would have me believe that Benjamin Shaw is comparable to Jeffrey Lewis, Sparklehorse, Tom Waits, J Mascis and Neil Young. It promises noise, invention and lo-fi charm. Mr. Shaw has a unique voice, it insists, unlike anything you've heard.

Unfortunately, only once on this EP does it even come remotely close to those promises on the fretful, buzzing 'When I Fell Over In The City' where Mr. Shaw does his best Neutral Milk Hotel impression. The other songs on here are perfectly fine examples of mopey, acoustic folk and the attempts to liven the sound up a little with the insertion of big, fuzzy layers of noise are appreciated; the problem is that the mopey, acoustic bits aren't all that far removed from most other singer-songwriters of this ilk and the noisy bits which might otherwise separate Mr. Shaw from the rest of the miserly pack of trembly-lipped acoustic strummers often feel tacked on. There are occasional moments on 'Chocolate Girl' and on the title track where the noise and the moping do manage to come together and the aformentioned 'When I Fell Over In The City' appears to get the balance just right throughout. But the other two thirds are lopsided, and neither aspect is really strong enough to succeed on its own.

I honestly wasn't expecting this to be Britain's answer to the late Mark Linkous, despite the press sheet's vain attempts to get me to do so; nevertheless, it's difficult to come away from this without the feeling of disappointment. Not because it doesn't come close to being anywhere near as good as the comparisons drawn; rather, because it can actually be quite good but has trouble with consistency. One to keep an eye on in case he does manage to find his groove, but for now much too frustrating to be worth it.

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