Just when you thought you’d heard it all, Benji Tranter and The Well Adjusted Individuals put a new spin on things with At The Launderette.
Following in the tradition of Flanders and Swan, Bernard Cribbins, Neil Innes and The Divine Comedy, Benji and the band prove that there is wit in every circumstance, wrapped up in four tracks of fun that transform everyday mundanity into a collection of quirky delights. Jazz, blues, rock, country, pop, whatever your taste, if you’ve got a fancy for the idiosyncratic, there’s something here for you.
With a nod to emotional hygiene, opening track The Launderette Song perfects the art of puns and similes – I’d use that change machine, see I could use some change in my life – which could be cringingly corny, if it wasn’t so darned clever. Recognising when a metaphor has been stretched far enough, there’s not a trace of a washboard or anything even remotely resembling skiffle in the arrangement (although the cheesy part of me sort of wishes there had been). Instead, Benji’s vocals, warmly sincere with just enough tongue-in-cheek, are supported by a blues arrangement, more reminiscent of late night jazz clubs than all-night laundries.
Every town deserves a place where the cool kids meet and everyone is welcome. Track 2, The Convivial Cafe paints a lyrical picture of just such a place — retro and fun, with the promise of crepes and Blue Moon on the jukebox. Surely this place must exist somewhere? According to Google it’s about halfway between Paris and Nantes. Can’t manage the journey? press play and Benji and the band will take you there, throwing in a generous helping of pop-rock that’s sure to get the bon vivants bopping along.
Barbra Streisand told us “It’s the laughter we remember,” and it seems that Benji’s recollections are just as rose-tinted. Unashamedly nostalgic, The Memory Song provides a three-and-a-half minute snapshot of happy times. Even the moules are singing along, which isn’t surprising as the song has probably the chirpiest hook-line of all times. With the tiniest taste of country to spice up the pop vibe, if you’re looking for an upbeat mood-setter, this could be the song of your summer.
Rounding off the EP, Upping the Workload gives food for thought. If the song is about working harder, why is it set to a luxuriously laid-back ballad of a track? Weaving the story of a relationship between a demanding boss and his worker — Cloth ears… listen here… make yourself useful for once in your insignificant life — and told in the first person, this glimpses a scene we can all relate to (whichever side of the conversation we’ve been on!). Credit has to go to the harmonies that bring vocal sophistication to a deceptively complex track.
South London-based Benji deserves the label “Youthful, charismatic songwriter of strange, vibrantly hyperreal vignettes.” The Well Adjusted Individuals are Dan Bramley (keys) and Jovis Lane (drums) – Benji explains the band’s name-choice with whimsical candour:
“The name probably comes from a subconscious desire to give poster designers a headache (that backfired, because I’ve been designing my own posters recently). Also because I think maybe a lot of bands try to dress up as badass and real when in fact they were head boy and come from an upper middle class background. This is a slightly caricatured overstatement on that issue… Dan and Jovis have grown into the roles more and more recently, wearing matching knitted jumpers or smart shirts and appearing rather prim and proper!”
That knitwear has got to be worth seeing, especially as BBC Radio 6 Music’s Tom Robinson describes Benji as a “really riveting stage performer.” The band are currently touring the launderettes of England — yes, you did read that correctly; for more details click here. August will see Benji take his show to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time, with a five date run at Paradise Green @ The Vault from 24th-28th. More details to be announced soon.
Follow Benji Tranter and The Well Adjusted Individuals at:
At The Laundrette was released on 1 July 2016 – get your copy here.
First published on Angry Baby.