I’ve taken to reading press releases upside down. I feel it is important to do so as such an inversion gives a whole new perspective to the gleeful irony that such documents contain. For example, The Bengsons – Abigail and Shaun – are activists and teachers and the four songs that make up their “Hundred Days” EP are excerpts from, of all things, a rock opera.
Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, there is an oaty wholesomeness pervading these songs that leads you to believe that every school in our great green land should perform them as their next end of term stage spectacular. Having Anais Mitchell participate exquisitely on “Even Then” adds musical credibility to the earnest efforts of The Bengsons but their strengths clearly lie in the relentlessly upbeat( join in on the chorus everyone!) sing-alongs like “Hundred Days”. You can almost hear the scrubbed and polished masses overdosing on the glee.
That said, The Bengsons take “Saturdays” and then use it to hold a male female overlapping vocal joust contest with both sides armed only with delicacy and confidence. The slow songs are the ones that sort out the professionals from the pretenders and The Bengsons are definitely on the right side of the fence. The anodyne sentimentality contained within “Bells” does kind of let the side down though.
Whilst the commercial point of releasing just four songs from a rock opera escapes me, “Hundred Days” did nevertheless leave me with a degree of curiosity regarding the complete and unedited rock opera from which it was drawn.