Posted by: on August 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Benji Hughes, A Love Extreme (New*West, 2008)

MP3: “Neighbor Down The Hall”

Whoever decided that an unknown former house painter from Charlotte, North Carolina who looks like he escaped from an Allman Brothers cover band — or perhaps My Morning Jacket — should release a double disc debut album, should totally get a raise. How the hell Benji Hughes managed to compile 25 tracks of charming, genre hopping pop brilliance without once missing the mark is anybody’s guess, but A Love Extreme plays effortlessly and has no filler. Hughes’ wit and writing style evoke indie savants like the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt and Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett. The man’s got the skills of Beck, but with more facial hair and less Scientology. Whether he’s lamenting the fact that his neighbor would rather call and complain to the landlord than knock on his door to ask him to turn down his jambox, reminiscing about a night spent with friends at a Flaming Lips concert, or tenderly convincing a girl that falling in love with him is all she needs to do (“And everyday you don’t gets wasted, and every night alone is your fault…”), his charm is completely infectious. Before you know it, you’ve listened to both discs and are ready to start the whole thing over again. — Laura Witkowski

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