Album Review: Brett Dennen – Por Favor

Published On June 10, 2016 | By Christopher Bohlsen | Albums, Music

Brett Dennen has always written catchy, minimal songs, with pleasing melodies and tasteful instrumentation, but he’s never created music that sounds quite as small and intimate as Por Favor. Dennen has said that the album explores “raw vulnerability”, having gone through personal and relationship troubles since his last album, and that shows through. Whilst the album is perhaps too sedate to be entirely effective, it’s still some of Dennen’s best work.

Brett Dennen Por FavorA good focal point of the album, is the single, Cassidy. The instrumental is simple drums and keyboard washes, and the vocal melody in the chorus is extremely uplifting. However, the optimistic arrangement hides a melancholia in the lyrics. The track explores longing, and trying to live in the moment, but Dennen seems keenly aware that the moment cannot last – “I’ll be tangled up in the night but tomorrow / I’ll be up in the air”. Most of the tracks on the album follow a similar pattern, of melding sombre lyrics with cheery, inoffensive instrumentals. The head-bopping guitar strumming of Burning Spirit sounds like it should accompany something tender or romantic, but Dennen sings a song about aimlessness – “I’m looking to find / no place at all”.

This consistency is the main downside of the album, as the later tracks on the album tend to blur together a bit. The instrumentals rarely veer away from sweet pianos and guitars, and the melodic mood is always major-key and upbeat. It’s an effective conceptual counterpoint to the lyrics, but it’s quite tiresome to listen to. Dennen has created an interesting concoction of contrast with Por Favor, melding upbeat, poppy songs with searching and despondent lyrics, and whilst Por Favor lacks in variety, it’s an enjoyable journey nonetheless.

3 / 5 stars     

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