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The Alternative to Love

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Audio CD, March 22, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Detroit's Brendan Benson is neither a singer-songwriter nor a simple pop musician. Brendan Benson is a band. His new album 'The Alternative To Love' is a collection of bittersweet and joyous, epic and memorable, highly contagious songs you can sing along with after one listen. V2. 2005.

Brendan Benson is the kind of guy who still sits by the AM radio late at night, spinning the tuning dial from one end to the other in a hopeless search for the perfect pop song. Little does he know he's considerably helped his own plight by making an album full of them. Unlucky in both love and money, the Detroit singer-songwriter has plenty to chew on with his third disc. Using wistful bubblegum melodies and crisp '60s harmonies, in tunes like "Feel Like Myself" and "Cold Hands (Warm Heart)" he lashes out at former lovers and A&R men with equal venom. "I always wind up screwed without a kiss," he hisses on the Phil Spector inspired "The Pledge." But, in the end the man who counts Jack White and Beck as devoted fans, knows impending success is the best payback. "Maybe I've been caught red-handed, making off like a lucky bandit/ This wasn't how I planned it," he gloats on the title track. It's really hard to argue. --Aidin Vaziri

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Spit It Out 3:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Cold Hands (Warm Heart) 3:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Feel Like Myself Again 4:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Alternative to Love 4:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. The Pledge 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Them and Me 4:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Biggest Fan 3:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Flesh and Bone 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Get It Together 3:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Gold Into Straw 3:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. What I'm Looking For 3:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Between Us 3:09$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 22, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: V2 North America
  • ASIN: B0007MEYIU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,584 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By David O'Brien on April 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I feel compelled to write this review after reading Mr Otwell's savage mauling of this album.I don't like to criticise the opinion of others but I really must protest at someone who reckons that Benson has lost his ability to write good music.

The simple truth is that 'Alternative To Love' is a masterpiece.

I already own 'Lapalco' and 'One Mississippi' but I always felt that they were patchy affairs.One or two songs on either album hinted at Benson's talent but over all there were too many half tunes to contend with.

On 'Alternative To Love', Benson really gets it right.

The songs are more straight forward power pop than before.

Musical highlights are many.I especially love the title song 'Alternative To Love'.It's great to hear layer upon layer of harmonies and great guitar work.The harmonica solo is a big bonus as well.I also love 'Biggest Fan'.It's the work of a genius.The keyboard (I think it's a Moog or a Melletron ?) dominates the track.Other highlights for me would be 'Flesh And Bone'.It's a nice melancholic track. Benson achieves the right mix of sadness and joy.

Any non-believers out there should listen to 'I Feel Like Myself Again' to dispel any nagging doubts about this man's genius.This song is an anthem to the power pop generation.It's a song similar to 'Surprise' by Semisonic - an uplifting song about finding your confidence again.A wonderful wonderful optimistic track - everything a power pop song should be.

I was doing a bit of research on this album and I found out that Benson recorded the album and then handed the tapes over to the producer with the instruction to 'fill out' the sound.This was a masterstroke.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By threestarsmash on June 8, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It's power pop. People that listen to music and focus on the "atrocious" lyrics seem to be missing the point of pop music: it's catchy, hummable and happy. Certainly there were people back in the day who despised the ambiguity of early Beatles lyrics (" 'I want to hold your hand'? WHOSE hand!?") but anyone with their head on straight won't dispute the music's enduring nature. Philosophize all you want, but Benson's cheap tricks here are designed merely to entertain, and they accomplish just that. He just wants you to want him. He needs you to need him. He... well, you get the point.

Frankly, it's easy to see how Jack White from the White Stripes claims Benson as an influence with quirky, bouncy tunes like the title track "Alternative to Love" peppering this release. Although Benson's music is pop devoid of the blues-aping garage rock that defines the White Stripes, Benson and White are kindred souls in terms of their oddball nature. Both essentially write quirky pop songs; Benson's are more complex. Consider Benson to be the Rubik's Cube to the White Stripes' Whack-A-Mole.

Four strong tracks open the disc: "Spit It Out"'s restrained guitar strums and twee sound effects give way to a soaring jack-in-the-box chorus; "Cold Hands (Warm Heart)" is a twinkling headbobber in the fine tradition of popsmiths everywhere; the straightforward "I Feel Like Myself Again" with its backhand-to-the-face chord changes and yet another singalong chorus demand the listener's attention, and the aforementioned title track sounds like the soundtrack to furry little animals dancing in a forest somewhere. If that scenario bothers you thematically, just mentally cut the chorus out and paste it over a Tarantino torture scene. There, that's better.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. P. Leenaarts on March 23, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I miss the Jellyfish days so much, and the Posies have had their day as well, so usher in the new wave of Power Pop masterminds and welcome the 3rd major release for Brendan. I've been a fan since the "One Mississippi' days (since Jason Falkner helped him out) and he's been great ever since. I was surprised to see Falkner wasn't assisting with Alternative to Love, but it's good to see that Brendan knows how to carry the weight on his own too. This is another of the best albums I've heard so far this year; punchy, vibrant, solid production. Now I just can't wait to see what he and Jack White have been stirring up! Check this disc out for sure!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Becca on July 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Brendan Benson's "Alternative to Love" can simply be summed up as brilliant. I am, admittedly, fairly new to Benson's work, but had a surprisingly lovely introduction to it the first time that I listened to The Raconteur's "Consolers of the Lonely." As a recently converted member of the International Church for the Reverence of the White Stripes, but nevertheless, hopelessly devoted to the great Jack White, I had bought COL looking to satisfy my ever-growing thirst for more White material. However, I emerged from the experience more intrigued by the other leading man, Benson, than solidified in my love for Jack White. Benson's music has been called "power pop" and has most often been compared to that of the Beatles. The mood of Benson's music is most certainly Beatlesesque, however his melodies soar higher and what they lack in a certain tonal edge that the Beatles' music encompassed, they make up for in biting lyrical wit. That is not to say that Bensons' music is not catchy; it certainly is, but it also has a wistfulness to it. For it is not simply Benson's infectious melodies that make his music pleasing and lasting, but more so, it is his ability to deliver a stinging punch of a wide number of multifarious emotions while maintaining a fairly mellow musical facade that makes it so uniquely powerful, and even haunting. A brilliant bard whose voice seems to have been stifled by bigger names in the industry that have reached their ascension more quickly (and perhaps more cheaply) Benson truly is an unsung hero (no pun intended). The certain sense of longing that is intertwined in the threads of his melodies make the songs in which they are found bittersweet in nature, yet that much more heartbreakingly passionate, and (for that matter) that much more endearing. Bravo, Mr. Benson.
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