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Ben Lee, ‘The Rebirth of Venus’ (New West)

picture-18328-1372869155David Peisner // January 25, 2009

This Aussie singer-songwriter’s steadfast refusal to keep churning out wistful, romantic guitar pop may be admirable, but on his seventh full-length, it’s painful to endure. The Rebirth is a quasi-concept album about femininity, hence the full-throated defense of a rock pariah (“Yoko Ono”), the roller-rink electro-funk meditation on gender roles (“Boy With a Barbie”), and the goofy, Helen Reddy–quoting ode to global sisterhood (“I’m a Woman, Too”). But amid spoken-word interludes and I’d-like- to-buy-the-world-a-Coke-style choirs, only Lee’s innate melodic gift saves him from total embarrassment.

Listen: Ben Lee, “What’s So Bad (About Feeling Good)”