Go Fly a Kite
The Noise Co.
Ben Kweller is past 30 now, but he still looks like a kid — and sings like one who’s voice hasn’t changed. That sweet, high reach he has lets him pump out some terrific pop — both the pleasant and power kind. On Go Fly A Kite, he skips around from sunny melodies to fuzzed-out, T. Rex vs. Cheap Trick guitar rock to Poco-meets-Byrds-meets-Buffalo Springfield (and visiting Jayhawks) alt-country. In other words, it’s all awfully, appealingly retro-sounding. By the time “Time Will Save the Day” rolls around, one has the distinct impression Kweller grew up wishing he’d been born in an earlier rock era. “Mean to Me” harks right back to the ’80s, and the Cali-country-folk track “Full Circle” contains effortlessly sweet and fine, Laurel Canyon-worthy vocals. Kweller also evokes his old pal Ben Folds via the syncopated piano and vocals of “The Rainbow.” Which brings us to “Justify Me,” a tune that sounds like it’s gonna fall under the tires, dragged down by plodding, borrowed guitar riffs, as if he threw every rock cliché into a pot and stirred. Yet the chorus has a lasso effect. Just when you think you can write this one off, it ropes you in. It’s maddening, in a way, because you can’t love it or hate it. There’s no such wavering about the charms of “Full Circle,” “Miss You” or the closer, “You Can Count on Me.” So steal if you must, Ben. Just let us count on you to keep us humming along. — LYNNE MARGOLIS