THERE’S no denying that Ben Lee can write a catchy pop song; if the mood or the financial impetus took him, the muppity singer could even tweak his ongoing spiritual spring-clean for a rebirth as a children’s troubadour. Boppy, idealistic and enthusiastic tracks such as the preachy but jiggy I Love Pop Music ( along with much of 2005’ s fetching Awake is the New Sleep ) could get those rusks in the air in no time. But when it comes to pop, simple is usually better, and Lee’s problem on The Rebirth of Venus is that he’s trying too hard: to be spiritual, to save the world, to be in love, to rewrite gender stereotypes ( Boy with a Barbie ) and channel femininity ( I’ma Woman Too ), to, once again, save the world. After a while the statements wear thin and it’s hard to take him seriously, the exception being the more pensive Families Cheating at Board Games, with its restrained vocals and pretty guitar-piano interplay. Lee’s ambitions are lofty but it’s hard to see this album winning him new fans.
Sandra Bridekirk The Rebirth of Venus Ben Lee UMA