Posted on: July 9, 2007 Posted by: James McQuiston Comments: 0

Ben Jelen – Ex Sensitive / 2007 Custard / 13 Tracks / / /

Ben Jelen starts off “Ex Sensitive” with a very hopeful brand of pop-rock music that is more influenced by eir vocals at the onset than even with the shifting, shambling beat that backs ey up during “Pulse”. Taken in toto, Jelen opens up this disc in a very solid way. There may be hints of U2 present in this introductory track, but Jelen is much more diverse than that, taking The Corrs, The Verve, and countless other earlier acts into consideration. Regardless, “Pulse” is a strong track and is the perfect introduction to listeners. “Where Do We Go” is more of the same, but seems to have a sheen about it that defies categorization.

What Jelen does on the majority of tracks on “Ex Sensitive” is create an inoffensive but never weak bit of pop rock, that fans of all ages can find something to dig in. Any of the tracks that are on “Ex Sensitive” could be on rotation. However, there are still some tracks that stand above the average song that Jelen puts forth on “Ex Sensitive”. An example of this has to be “Counting Down”. The song has a slower, more spread-out style that will elicit comparisons to individuals like David Bowie. Jelen’s vocals are still the focal point of the track, but the instrumentation’s echoing and strung-out sound is something that is new and exciting. What may be the most interesting thing to “Ex Sensitive” has to be that Jelen uses everything that has preceded the track in question.

Thus, “Just A Little” uses the slower tempo of “Counting Down” while still taking into consideration the pop-rock compositions that were present before that track. This has a very positive effect to the cohesion on the disc, while not necessarily constraining Jelen into a specific course of action.  Jelen actually even throws a little bit of a Bright Eyes type of sound at points during the disc. The most audible example of this occurs in “Just A Little”, but one cannot debate that Jelen has been influenced by that style of indie rock as well. The disc is well over fifty minutes, and yet it feels about half that given the soft tones and dulcimer vocals that are present at all points during “Ex Sensitive”. Give the disc a go if one is a fan of strong pop music that takes on older styles while still being vital and vibrant at every turn.

Top Tracks: Vulnerable, Not My Plan

Rating: 6.8/10

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