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Brooke Bentham Confronts Uncertainty on Everyday Nothing

Singer is ambivalent about a life in music on her highly assured debut LP

Music Reviews Brooke Bentham
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Brooke Bentham Confronts Uncertainty on <i>Everyday Nothing</i>

If there’s one thing Jessica Simpson’s memoir has taught us, it’s that fame is corrosive. Whatever vehicle makes someone famous—music, movies, TikTok, sex tapes leaked on purpose—often becomes a means to the end of staying famous, as opposed to something worth doing for its own sake. Then there’s Brooke Bentham. The London singer is ambivalent enough about the idea of a full-time Life in Music that she chooses (and, let’s be honest, probably has a financial need) to work two jobs in between recording and touring, just to give herself some day-to-day structure. Bentham’s sharp debut album contends with being young and uncertain about the direction she wants to go.

Though she’s diffident on Everyday Nothing about what she wants out of life, Bentham knows exactly what she wants out of her music. She comes across as remarkably assured on 11 indie rock songs full of blurry guitars that wash around her sleepy and expressive voice. The album tilts toward slower songs full of grainy textures, so naturally, the handful of more uptempo numbers stand out.

“Keep It Near” is foremost among them. The centerpiece of the album, the song finds Bentham reconciling her expectations for making music with the sometimes underwhelming reality of it, and she lets her voice ring out over spacious, overdriven guitars. It’s a masterful combination that hits like a shot of adrenaline when she slides into the chorus.

“Men I Don’t Know” deals with another reality of the business side of music: the glad-handing among slick guys with strong opinions who are as often as not full of crap. Though it’s a slow song, it exerts a strong pull. Clean guitars circle over Bentham’s subtle, bleary melody, joined toward the end by a repeating keyboard figure that’s all that remains when the rest of the instruments fade out.

Not everything on Everyday Nothing is a meditation on making music, though. “Perform for You” is a character study that Bentham based on a novel she read about a guy who builds himself up by tearing down his girlfriend. The song is packed with layers of guitars that start off relatively restrained, with a chugging figure accented with overdriven chords, and then build into spiky swirls of fuzztone fills and vamping. By contrast, “High” is muscular, but restrained, with a prominent drumbeat right up front with Bentham’s double-tracked vocals and woozy guitar squalling in the background until it spills into the foreground and takes over. It’s atmospheric and evocative, and Bentham sounds fully in command as she lets her voice grow from quiet to full-throated.

For all her uncertainty about her professional path as a creative person, Everyday Nothing makes one thing clear: Bentham is very good at what she does. She’s a distinctive songwriter with a penchant for avoiding the obvious, and her songs have a way of lingering, with melodies that scroll through your head like a news ticker. If those other jobs she has held onto don’t work out, she might want to think about making a career out of music.

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