Published May 2, 2012
It isn’t that Benni Hemm Hemm (Benedikt H. Hermannsson and his gang of musicians) aren’t talented. It isn’t that their gentle horn and guitar-filled songs don’t resonate with enough grace to make one temporarily forget the agony of daily life. And I’d certainly like to believe it isn’t that I’m completely heartless. It’s just that…well…what else have you got? Falling lockstep into their previous four releases, Benni Hemm Hemm (the man) has delivered another beautiful (and very predictable) ten-song cycle.
Even the admirable energy of showstopper ‘Þú mátt aldrei detta’ can’t hide the fact that this ain’t our first time at the rodeo—we’ve seen this song-structure before. Repeatedly, minimal openers blossom into guitar and horn filled choruses. It’s almost as if during the writing process, Benedikt scribbled down a series of crescendos and then went out for a beer—assured his superior command of melody would carry them through. It does, at least partially. ‘FF ekki CC’ is about as pretty as they come, guitars taking on a light tropical bent. ‘Tenant’ is even saved by formula, its barely-there opening resuscitated by strings and shimmering percussion. It’s difficult to argue with the sensitivity of the band’s execution, as ultimately Benni Hemm Hemm brings us a well-crafted seven-course meal. It would be nice, however, to know that they could also deliver a burger and fries.