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Album Review: Our Undivided Attention by Benchmarks

Nashville based Benchmarks release their new album Our Undivided Attention on 24th March via SofaBurn Records. Benchmarks vocalist Todd Farrell Jr. (who also pulls double duty as the lead guitarist for the band Two Cow Garage) says “This is the record that I’ve always wanted to make. It’s a little punk, but it isn’t a punk record. It rocks, but it isn’t just a rock record either. It has in-your-face guitar solos, but it also has a kind of quiet vulnerability. Lyrically, it deals with the anxiety around growing up and struggling to embrace the responsibilities that go with it. It was a very cathartic process for all of us, and I’m very proud of what we’ve created.”

It’s a strange album to review. It has many hallmarks of an album we’d normally enjoy – spikey riffs, instantaneous hooks and a sprinkling of emo – but something doesn’t quite sit right with us. Normally in a case like this it’d be because it all feels a little contrived, but that certainly isn’t the case here. In fact, the raw emotion and cathartics is the best thing about Our Undivided Attention. It’s hard to put your finger on, but it’s there somewhere.

By the time you get to third track ‘Sharks and Minnows’ it becomes apparent that this is just like a hundred-other alt rock, emo tinged albums you’ve heard before. There’s nothing unique or notable about any of the 11 tracks and it becomes painfully aware that this will be an unremarkable 40minutes.

None of it is bad, it is just so bland and inoffensive. Nothing happens. It’s a substandard homage to Jimmy Eat World and The Gaslight Anthem. Lyrically, you’ve seen it all before, the song ‘Let You Down’ talks of how we could try a little harder to be kinder to one another, while ‘Girls and Boys’ takes a Kerouac look at the modern world of dating and hooking up. All done a thousand times before.

Perhaps the Benchmarks moniker is a big joke and the band simply had a check list of qualities becoming of successful alt rock bands and just wanted to tick them off without creating their own identity. There’s potential lurking below the surface, the band just need to carve out their own niche.

AD Rating 6/10



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