My Old, Familiar Friend

  • Record Label: ATO
  • Release Date: Aug 18, 2009
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Not only does the music feel like filler and lacking in substance but the album itself feels like it’s only purpose is to merely keep music ticking over until something worthwhile comes along.
  2. Benson emphasizes the raw power of his riffs instead of polishing them into a smooth sheen. It's not as DIY charming as his earlier works, but it's pretty darned effective.
  3. The 11 wonderful songs are worthy of the Beatles, but Benson's solo career has never really broken through.
  4. Brendan Benson expertly assembles pop music using the manual.
  5. Benson's fourth solo jam is his first since the Raconteurs introduced him to the masses, which means now everybody gets to play catch-up with his skewed acumen for classic power pop in the Seventies AM-gold mode of Wings and ELO.
  6. My Old, Familiar Friend is one warm power-pop bath ?after another, a cornucopia of oceanfront harmonies, plunky keys, and psychedelic marginalia.
  7. A sturdy power-pop effort in the Paul McCartney vein, it projects an air of self-effacement.
  8. My Old, Familiar Friend isn’t afraid to show itself as exactly what it is: A classic pop record from an artist who has seen many sides of the spectrum and stays true to the melodies which carry him through his life.
  9. The milquetoast, wholegrain rock of My Old, Familiar Friend never really rises out of the mire to become anything other than a pleasant and forgettable toe-tapper.
  10. Under The Radar
    40
    When Benson's good he's great, but when he's only average--as he is throughout the better part of this disc--he's barely distinguishable from any number of '70s-inspired songwriters. [Fall 2009, p.61]
  11. Slower songs like “Gonowhere” and “You Make a Fool Out of Me” can be a drag, but what My Old, Familiar Friend lacks in consistency it more than compensates for with adventurous diversity.
  12. Benson spent the early part of the decade building a repertoire of scruffy but sophisticated pop songs, but he fulfills his potential on this sparkling new set.
  13. Mojo
    80
    His fourth album isn't quite as rich a powerpop confection as 2002's "Lapalco" but it still shows off songs as sweet and sharp as peanut brittle. [Sep 2009, p.104]
  14. Even if he doesn't quite have the vocal presence to fully inhabit this stage, his taste and melodic skills are suited for this bigger scale so My Old, Familiar Friend winds up as an effective showcase for his craftsmanship even if it never quite grabs ahold the way "Lapalco" did.
  15. Even at its stuffiest, Friend is a power-pop record that never skimps on the power.
  16. Uncut
    60
    There have been worse ideas, it's true. All round, though, it feels like a man with a gun in his back, being forced to be upbeat. [Sep 2009, p.79]
  17. 60
    Though Benson’s fourth solo album is less distinctive and more finessed than the work of his money gig, it still puts his secondhand fame in perspective.
  18. My Old Familiar Friend seems to be an album with modest aspirations which, for the most part, it achieves.
  19. The Michigan singer-songwriter is now best known for providing the Raconteurs with tunes and his fourth solo album adds a splash of their heaviness to his trademark Beatles-indebted pop.
  20. That Benson probably already has a dozen as-good new arrows in the quiver is the curse of the prodigious. But with songs like these, as coy and shiny as new pennies, Benson's private hunt for airtight guitar pop is worth relishing.
  21. How odd, then, that so much of Friend is a celebration of aimlessness that, coincidentally, quickly loses focus.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. CodyT
    Feb 2, 2010
    7
    Vastly underrated CD. Maybe Benson SHOULD have a put a sticker on the album explaining his involvement with the Raconteurs....might of got a Vastly underrated CD. Maybe Benson SHOULD have a put a sticker on the album explaining his involvement with the Raconteurs....might of got a few more people to discover his solo music. Aside from a few disposable bubblegum pop tracks this record is his best solo outing yet. Full Review »
  2. CarlO.
    Sep 25, 2009
    9
    I find myself surprisingly in love with this album. Other than appreciating a couple of his singles, I've never dug into his stuff I find myself surprisingly in love with this album. Other than appreciating a couple of his singles, I've never dug into his stuff before and only checked it out on a whim when it was streamed on Spinner. Well, I've since found it to be a slice of power pop heaven - along the lines of endearing, hooky icons like Jason Falkner and Matthew Sweet. It's actually in the running for my favorite album of the year. Full Review »
  3. TonyM
    Aug 24, 2009
    8
    Stands up well against lapalco and alternative to love, any justice this album will make Benson better known for his solo work.