Gentle Ben And His Sensitive Side : Magnetic Island
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Gentle Ben And His Sensitive Side : Magnetic Island

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In the blood and sweat drenched atmosphere of the average Six Ft Hick gig, it’s hard to imagine Ben Corbett indulging his sensitive side.

In the blood and sweat drenched atmosphere of the average Six Ft Hick gig, it’s hard to imagine Ben Corbett indulging his sensitive side. Prowling across the stage like a starved wild animal, blood dripping from his self-inflicted wounds, Corbett – in concert with his ragged preacher brother Geoff – is a man lost to the ethereal mania of rock ’n’ roll.

Yet, paradoxically, it’s Corbett’s Six Ft Hick persona that provides the foundation for Gentle Ben And His Sensitive Side. The previous Gentle Ben And His Sensitive Side album took much of its inspiration from Corbett’s observations on the human detritus that surrounded the morning after one of his stints working in Ric’s Bar in Brisbane; with Magnetic Island, the impression is of a man taking an even darker lens to the world around him, any maybe even closer to home.

Regret It – spiked, as always, by a razor sharp riff courtesy of Dylan McCormack – is a tale of admission and forced humiliation, the narrator acutely aware of his failings but almost taunting his interlocutor to act on them. The flamenco-styled opening and apple pie-sweet pop of Tomorrow Afternoon provides the welcoming soundtrack for an addict’s romantic overtures while the luscious melody of Rally Around paints a tawdry picture of a life lost to cheap, pathetic confrontation.

But it’s when Gentle Ben runs his eye over the outer margins of so-called civil society that his Sensitive Side comes into its own. The Story Of The Swan offers a few salient lessons in dealing with the anger of others, Nothing That I’m Needing is a story of teenage innocence lost down the festering drain of contemporary indulgence and Suicide Machine suggests the end is closer than many of us would ever be prepared to admit.

On That Guy Is A Liar Corbett does his best line in honest advice to the potential victim of a dysfunctional relationship;Blur The Lines suggests the male of the species is struggling with his own inherent demons. In this context, the cover of The Go-Between’s Was There Anything I Can Do is perfect – Corbett’s focus, however, surely goes beyond the individual to the society that created, and condones such social problems.

Magnetic Island is simultaneously softer, but even more intense than previous Gentle Ben outings. You don’t need to shout to attract attention; Gentle Ben throws up confronting, almost painful images of the seedy underside of humanity. When that’s coupled with his Sensitive Side’s indulgence of the lush beauty of pop, you’re left with another exceptional Gentle Ben record.


Out on Spooky Records

GEOFF DYMOCK