Mr Ben & The Bens have always been a band high on concept, they’ve written albums about breakfast soundtracks, marine activities and on last year’s Who Knows Jenny Jones, a woman from Pitsmoor who returned from an alien abduction with impressive disco-dancing know-how. After all that, you can probably forgive the band for basing their upcoming, Life Drawing, considerably closer to home. There’s a thread of Northern towns, and the character within them, that runs through Life Drawing, more than ever though, Mr Ben & The Bens leave the narrative up to the listener, as Ben Hall from the band explains, “I’d like it if the listener could find those semi-truths from the songs and place them into their own experiences”. Life Drawing will arrive into the world via Bella Union in July, and today we’re sharing the latest single from it, Watering Can.
The closing track on Life Drawing, Watering Can is, in the band’s own words, “a gently-swaying brassy ode to small town life”. The track was at least partly inspired by the band’s latest acquisition, an allotment plot, as Ben explains, “I loved the image of a watering can becoming a metaphor for good intentions”. Here they reflect on ideas of love, aspiration and claustrophobia, musing on no matter how or large your dreams are, they have a tendency to never be fully realised.
As the last track on the record, on Watering Can, Mr Ben & The Bens aimed for, “that very specific combination of uplifting melancholy”, and it’s expertly done. From the woozy, Fanfarlo-like sway of the brass, to the strong, yet undeniably sad quality of the vocal, it’s a perfect mix of optimism and crushing reality. As Ben sings, “what if we made it, and then totally faded”, with his vocal channelling the twin spirits of Stuart Murdoch and Teleman’s Thomas Sanders, you can almost hear the hope fading from his lungs.
While Watering Can might be a reflection on dreams not always coming true, with their music finding a wonderful home on Bella Union, Mr Ben & The Bens hopes and dreams look dangerously like they might be coming true, and then along comes a global pandemic to kick you in the teeth. Fear not, like Mr Benn himself sometimes you just need to step into the shop, put on the outfit and follow the adventure wherever it takes you, sometimes the journey is just as important and exciting as arriving at your destination.
Life Drawing is out July 10th via Bella Union. Click HERE for more information on Mr Ben & The Bens.