Benee: Hey U X review – endearingly careworn

Released at the end of last year, Supalonely – 20-year-old New Zealander Stella Bennett’s breakthrough hit – found a new life via TikTok in March, as lockdown gripped. Like the majority of songs on this endearingly careworn debut, it manages to be both breezy and broken, with Bennett softly cooing “I’m a sad girl, in this big world” over a wheezy take on disco.

Keen to avoid being “that TikTok artist”, Bennett followed Supalonely with the weirder Snail, a bouncy electro-pop opus about her favourite gastropod. Her restlessness also manifests itself in the various genres the album careers between: the gorgeous, soft-focus opener Happen to Me, which explores the anxiety of overthinking, leans into woozy alt-rock; Kool is louche hip-hop interrupted by big, crunchy rock riffs, while the Grimes-assisted Sheesh tackles 90s house.

The genre-hopping enhances the album’s patchwork quality, but it’s let down at times by Bennett’s nonchalant delivery when the tempo drops. If I Get to Meet You melts away in a smear of slurred vocals, while the breathy A Little While feels too mannered. Much better is the closer C U, a luminous acoustic ballad. “I’ll see you,” she sighs, perhaps to an old, pre-fame life, “I have to be somewhere else.”

Watch the video for Happen to Me


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