Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Benni Hemm Hemm - Benni Hemm Hemm (So Long, Ruins!)

Benni Hemm Hemm

Benni Hemm Hemm
Morr Music.

SCQ Rating: 37%

Anyone who even casually peruses this blog should know that Morr Music is among my favourite labels… and finding their releases at a cheap price is a rare case indeed. My girlfriend and I were on hand to witness Sam the Record Man’s last stand on Yonge Street two years ago, and while rummaging through their heavily discounted inventory, I came across Benni Hemm Hemm’s disastrously covered debut. He’d conquered his native Iceland, wowed the folks of a fine label and earned some now-commonplace comparisons to Sufjan Stevens. Even reading over those points I just made, I feel like I made the right decision. How could I go wrong? Why, in several key areas...

I failed to anticipate that Benni Hemm Hemm might try to pass off its songs with the same twee-cuteness that screams from its cover like a billboard. I failed to consider the odds that anyone (from Iceland or anywhere) is going to be accurately matched to Sufjan Stevens, folk-god extraordinaire. Most embarrassingly, I failed to admit to myself that I was buying this disc more for the Morr symbol in the bottom left corner than for the artist’s hard work. The entire affair, from their bookending ‘Beginning End’ instrumentals to the fractured English of ‘I Can Love You in a Wheelchair Baby’, reeks of ‘ah shucks’ bashfulness, and really, if albums are purported weapons used to pick up chicks, Sufjan already had girls and guys alike disrobed with his ode to serial-killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. How the hell did Sufjan do it? Why, with talent.

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