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DONNY BENET Mr Experience gets 7/10


Donny Benet

Mr Experience
Dot Dash/Remote Control

7/10

International man of mystery and consensus sexiest human being alive Donny Benet returns with Mr Experience, his most consistent collection of tunes to date.

The album cover of a hazy, shirtless and sweat-sheened Benet is a perfect summation of what’s to come. Benet deals out a mix of sax-laden synth pop and Italo disco that’s played firmly tongue in cheek. Benet’s character is perfectly realised, Barry White’s meeker and sleeker cousin (though still sporting some love handles). As such, songs about his romantic prowess like opener Mr Experience are ‘sandwiched’ between tracks like Second Dinner. Both revel in a type of gluttony, in an album that’s as much a guilty pleasure as a midnight Maccas run.

Benet is part of a collective with Aussie legends Kirin J Callinan, Jack Ladder and Alex Cameron, often playing and touring together. They all share a sense of the absurd and a keen ear for genre tropes: Callinan is subversive and experimental, Ladder is romantic, and Cameron is a storyteller par excellence. Benet can’t compete in any of these categories, so he makes up for it with sheer listenability. This whole album is a put-on, and the longevity of the joke will depend on preference. But long after you stop snickering about second dinners, you’ll be coming back to these tunes for their monster hooks and rich instrumentation.

The aforementioned Second Dinner takes an awkward vocal line and somehow makes it work in what is an absurdist masterpiece that is knowingly memorable despite itself. Mr Experience bursts out the gate with a popping bassline and sugary synths, a pop gem. Moving Up introduces some electro synths and is pure bouncy fun. Girl of my Dreams is a sultry tune with a great chorus underpinned by a whistling melody. One Night in Paradise is arguably the album highlight, an epic Italo Disco number with foreboding synths and bass synths which are given their due in a great breakdown come song’s end.

The album’s weaknesses are more due to Benet’s limitations than the songs themselves. His voice is a liability at times – it’s weak and reedy, and his lack of range means his vocal hooks have an (admittedly hilarious) sing-song pattern that is often tracked by the keyboards. He makes it work, but it’s unfortunate that we won’t be getting any sweaty ballads on a Donny Benet album anytime soon. Given that lack of songwriting variety the songs do lose their steam towards the end, with tunes like Take A Trip repeating the same sing-song melodies we’ve heard earlier, and You Don’t Need Love playing off the same beat as previous album classic Santorini but without that track’s huge chorus.

Nevertheless, this is an immensely listenable album buoyed by Benet’s inimitable brand of charm. If you’re looking for a dance-pop album you can’t go wrong with this one. Embrace the Don.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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