New York band Benzos sophomore album, Branches, is deceptively melancholy. Frontman Christian Celaya is so gentle voiced, but he can get emotional. It does just that...often. (Note the full word 'emotional' not 'emo'.) He doesn't get screamy or lame, but it does sound like he's pouring his soul out in the form of gloomy indie rock with an underlying electronic beat.
Going back to the deception as described earlier, first track, "Sell This Thing," starts the album off somewhat peppy and upbeat. The production is very full and has a commercial rock feel to it. Next song, "Phase 2" is a classically sweet indie rock tune that'll make your shoulders jig. These two tunes start off the album, and then the title track "Branches" leads us into a different direction. From a more up-tempo beginning, to the heart-wrenching journey that Benzos wants to take us on for the rest of the album. "Branches" is where the album seems to really begin. Celaya's oh's and ah's throughout this track set a darker tone to the record bringing the feel of the album down a notch. Another track, "Teach Me," is bass beat and guitar heavy. The vocals are sexy, echoey, and haunting. Do you know that moment in a show where the lights turn red and it gets smoky, the music is somewhat droning, you kind of get lost in the music and zone out? This song is the 'zone out' one. The trickery continues in another track when you hear a fast electronic beat. You think it's a song that makes you dance, but then you realize the song is called "Hurt Everybody" and part of the lyrics are "Everybody's hurting, just like me..." Not all the songs are downers, however. "Translucent" is a pleasant little change of pace from the last few songs. There's always a catch with this band, though. "Translucent" is over six minutes long, and just when you think it's a cheery song, Benzos drags you back down. It's like listening to an indie rock rollercoaster of feelings.
Branches is still a solid effort for Benzos. Bits and pieces of this record are similar to quick snare of Mute Math and the vocals of Doves. If you're a fan of either, then Benzos is highly recommended. It's also recommended if you like your indie rock on the more emotional side of life. Maybe you should lie down and talk about your thoughts in life after this.