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Ben Lee - Breathing Tornados

By annie holub
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 15, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ben Lee
Breathing Tornados
(Grand Royal)

Ben Lee's trek through the world of indie songwriting acts as a sort of update on the state of music. Breathing Tornados fits right into the late nineties with its use of a variety of drum loops and samples in lieu of guitar.

But the synth-pop thing suits Ben Lee well. Production also suits Ben Lee well. His voice is tolerable and actually quite enjoyable on Breathing Tornados, and the nifty instrumentation gives his otherwise sappy songs sustenance. "Cigarettes Will Kill You" is probably the best song on the album, with an upbeat piano loop and the chorus lyric "I want a TV embrace." Also on the album is "Birthday Song," which is the infamous song Lee sang to girlfriend Claire Danes on her birthdayonce. Petra Hayden, of the former That Dog, co-wrote a couple songs, and Harmony Korine, of "Gummo" and "Kids" fame, helped write "Tornados," along with a few other people.

Ben Lee has established himself as an indie icon, and Breathing Tornados , for the most part, makes that title well-deserved. It's just too bad the cover is so damn ugly. - annie holub