Ben Lee | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Ben Lee

Awake Is the New Sleep
New West

My prediction? After the first few singles on his new album slowly work their way into heavy rotation on Gap-store soundtracks and Volkswagen commercials, Ben Lee finally becomes as famous a songwriter stateside as he already is in his native Australia. Awake Is the New Sleep, Lee's first work since his highly publicized falling-out with Claire Danes at the age of 25, is anything but a young man's break-up record. Instead, as the title suggests, hope, positivity and maturity are recurring themes; in the album's liner notes, Lee even thanks "Master Nan Lu and everybody at the American Taoist Healing Center, for teaching me 'nothing.'"

Laugh if you must, but for anyone with a proclivity toward quirky and precise songwriting, clean beats and pseudo-existential lyricism, Awake is the real deal. "Gamble Everything for Love" is the album's grand slam: an addictive but easy-to-digest track that's one-part Zen Koan and two-parts luminous indie-pop. But even the album's few non-radio-ready songs are worth a listen. Brilliant songwriting, brilliant attitude. I'm definitely staying awake for the next one.