Ben Lee delivers a career-defining release built on his belief that the best song in the world should be the catchiest, and should be popular, and should be the cleverest and the most soulful. RIPE, Lee's 6th album, continues Ben's trademark pop craftsmanship, sense of humor and uncontainable passion for life, as well as representing a marked maturity in form. The 12-song set includes the exuberant weeping ballad Love Me Like The World Is Ending, the infectious track Blush, an ode to a personal hero in What Would Jay-Z Do?, and the Mandy Moore duet Birds & Bees.
An internationally acclaimed song ("Catch My Disease") that made the playlist for both a hit television drama and computer advertisement did nothing to alter Australia's Ben Lee. He remains youthful (still, at age 28), eminently fruitful (this marks his seventh album), and capable of surrendering addictive after captivating song (see "Love Me Like the World Is Ending," "Just Say Yes," and a half-dozen others on this 12-song set). Not surprisingly, Ripe
rides a similar vibe to 2005's Awake Is the New Sleep
: quick-and-dirty pop melodies polished with chiming guitars, piano fills, and Lee's exuberant, boyish vocals. Love and affection provide a common thread, blatantly exposing themselves on the interrogatory "Is This How Love's Supposed to Feel" and "Just Say Yes," where Lee asks, "If this is right, then why resist?" while purely insinuating infatuation on both "Blush" and "Numb." The indie veteran's camaraderie pays off on "Sex Without Love," where Good Charlotte's Benji Madden joins him on a chorus dangerously Def Leppardish and the Grease
like "Birds and Bees," with pop diva Mandy Moore playing Olivia Newton-John to Lee's John Travolta. The latter plays hokey for one or two listens before dissolving into the record's delightful sequence. --Scott Holter