Posted on May 26th, 2009 (10:48 pm) by Amelia England

Canadian Ohad Benchetrit, the multi-instrumentalist force behind the post-rock band Do Make Say Think, is one of those musicians who has effectively tuned out all admonitions of multi-tasking and embraced the egotism of “the instrumental solo side project”. That tricky experiment that most music savants hope leads to legendary-dreamboat-musician status. The result: Benchetrit’s solo moniker Years and the release of his heavily orchestrated, self-titled debut on May 5.

With such an impressive résumé of guest contributions, including rooming up with bands like Feist and Broken Social Scene, you’d think Benchetrit could pull off a staggeringly fantastic album with either (A) oozing sex appeal, (B) badass intelligence, or (C) overwhelmingly inspiring combination of A and B plus the drama of fellow instrumental success stories, such as Sigur Rós and Explosions In The Sky. However, despite mastering an impressive array of instruments and having a satisfactory knack for utilizing harmonies, Benchetrit falls short of producing a thrilling album of substance. That is, the blood, flesh, bone, and nerve of this album are merely passable, if not downright skimpy.

The album opens with “Kids Toy Love Affair,” a cutesy Merry-Go-Round jingle that quickly trades in for the largely acoustic “Don’t Let The Blind Go Deaf.” “Love Affair” is an odd intro, considering how much attention is devoted to moody acoustics and full orchestration for the remainder of the album.

“Are You Unloved” is a swelling, beat-heavy progression of well-paced intervals and a surprisingly frantic second half. “Hey Cancer…Fuck You” is decidedly short, with static swells and a brief acoustic anecdote. “Binary Blues” incorporates staccato plucking cut short by “A Thousand Times a Day (Someone Is Flying).” It’s possibly the most intriguing, as it showcases the only vocals and Explosions In The Sky-ish electric guitar of the album. It’s a mid-album climax, retreating in to an arguably more conservative second half.

“Lasantha Wickrematunge” sounds like a backroom recording of a chapel hymn, followed by the melancholy accordions of “September 5, October 21 2007.” “The Fall of Winter” is slow and wonderfully restrained, with “The Major Lift” cutting in with what sounds like bass saxes, trumpets, and muffled synths. The track progresses into a messier wrap-up than most of the other tracks, leaving room for “44” to finish the album with a full-fledged string ensemble, excitable trumpets, and a nicely synthesized conclusion.

Some of the track titles are terribly pretentious (“The Assassination of Dow Jones” and “Hey Cancer…Fuck You” in particular), forcing the listener to delve unnecessarily into some cryptic acoustic message in each track. Titles aside, most of the tracks are meditative and satisfying, incorporating each instrumental or synthesized element with grace and maturity. The result is a calming collection of ponderous instrumentals and contrasting synths that showcase Benchetrit’s knack for inclusion and harmonious intuition.

Yet, despite its heavy, ponderous aspirations, Years wraps up disappointingly. There is a willingness to delve into unexpected combos, but Years is lacking as a distinctively potent success. There’s nothing to hate, but, then again, there’s nothing to get ecstatic over either; it passes an underwhelming stamp of approval. Another satisfactory instrumental solo project by a clearly competent musician. “A Thousand Times a Day” and “The Fall of Winter” are rich, delving tracks that are well worth a listen, and “Binary Blues” is gorgeous and unusual, but the rest of the album falls short of a forceful, stop-you-in-your-tracks delight.

Track List

1. Kids Toy Love Affair (2:29)
2. Don't Let The Blind Go Deaf (2:23)
3. Are You Unloved? (6:45)
4. Hey Cancer... Fuck You! (2:15)
5. Binary Blues (1:39)
6. A Thousand Times A Day (Someone Is Flying) (2:59)
7. The Assassination Of Dow Jones (4:51)
8. Lasantha Wickrematunge (0:47)
9. September 5. October 21. 2007. (2:27)
10. The Fall Of Winter (1:07)
11. The Major Lift (3:23)
12. 44 (3:45)

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