Review Summary: This album is very good, however “Distance and Comfort” won’t change your life. It isn’t groundbreaking, even if it is well written to a fault. Nevertheless, the production is certainly impressive and the songs are all catchy and enjoyable, with K
Ben Kenney, best known for his role as Incubus’ bassist following the departure of Dirk Lance, has been releasing solo albums since 2004, to moderate success. His third, Distance and Comfort, was released in 2008, shortly after Incubus’ Light Grenades. I feel this deserves mention as Kenney’s musical progression seems tied to Incubus’ own for obvious reasons, with Light Grenades welcoming a more varied musical style much akin to Kenney’s on this album.
The album itself follows his style of alt rock blended with various musical influence, as seen on the dream like instrumental “When We Were Both Cats”, but generally follows the simple guitar, bass and drum standard, with occasional use of drum machines. The guitars themselves are crunchy and well produced, with the bass taking a drier and looser approach then his tones on previous Incubus records. The drums are also well recorded and fit into the mix well considering the album was a one man effort recorded and mixed from home.
Song wise, the album starts off strong with the tight and punchy “Not Today”, boasting one of Kenney’s best riffs. The song also features one of the albums secret weapons: Kenney’s ridiculous vocal range and incredible lead playing. The backing vocals are a soaring chorus of multilayered harmonies that never feel intrusive (unlike certain bands that use the same trick *cough* muse *cough* ). Followed by the groove inspired “Get It To Go”, the album carries on with fairly strong, if standard, alt rock tracks until the aforementioned “When We Were Both Cats” introduces the last third of the album. It provides a change in tempo for the album, where most tracks before are energetic and fun, the track “Implants” is a darker, more aggravated approach to the sound found before, with the once pristine chorus of vocal overdubs suddenly becoming a chanting mass of accusations and demands. This intensity is short lived however, with the next track being a melancholy yet playful tune and the album closing with two soft, quiet tracks that are more akin to lullabies than rock songs. This is not a critique however as “Some Days” is one of the best tracks off the album purely for how beautiful it is, which makes it confusing as to why it wasn’t the album closer.
This album is very good, however “Distance and Comfort” won’t change your life. It isn’t groundbreaking, even if it is well written to a fault. Nevertheless, the production is certainly impressive and the songs are all catchy and enjoyable, with Kenney bringing a certain flair to each that makes them a joy to come back to time and time again, even if you probably have heard the ideas here done somewhere else before.
Best Tracks: Not Today
When We Were Both Cats