Introducing: Alec Benjamin

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With a well-performing mixtape already under his belt, pop storyteller Alec Benjamin’s momentum as a successful singer-songwriter seems sure.

Alec Benjamin is hardly a newbie. Making waves with his 2018 mixtape Narrated For You, and receiving coverage from publications like Billboard, his instantly recognisable mesh of pop and light hip-hop assured him a decent following (his Spotify numbers, for instance, are far from shabby). Still though, and despite the success of his mixtape, there remained a feeling that more was yet to come — particularly in the UK, where only one of his tracks broke the top 40, reaching a peak position of just 31. Indeed, we were yet to see the Arizona electro-pop up-and-comer tackle a full-length studio project and put his voice out there in a more calculated way than is offered by the loose (but good!) collection of songs that we received just two years ago. His recently announced May 29 debut album These Two Windows, then, offers the perfect opportunity to cast a spotlight.

The singles from Benjamin’s upcoming project have been teased and released periodically for a while, going as far back as June 2019 with ‘Must Have Been the Wind’, a lovable cut that features Benjamin’s signature muted acoustic guitars, bouncy snares and low talk-singing which expands into a large chorus of overtly bittersweet chords and chattery refrains. There is something highly charming about the simplified (if that does not sound too derogatory) way in which Benjamin writes; zeroing in on a particular topic, story or theme and building his lyricism and songwriting around this in a way that is confident, shameless and sometimes innocent. You will not find incredibly complex motifs or twisting bridge sections in his tracks, but this is inherent to his likeability as an artist — instead, peppy pop melodies infused with a clear-cut sadness and an immediately understandable and thus emotive concept or subject. It is digestible in the best possible way.

Clearly, his songwriting shtick has caught on. Between a collaborative re-release of his most popular track ‘Let Me Down Slowly’ with Alessia Cara, and live performance of ‘Death of a Hero’ with the man himself John Mayer, Benjamin’s potential as a future sub-pop staple seems bankable. This is evident particularly when considering tracks of his such as ‘Boy in the Bubble’ (which features rap-ballad verses with a crisp beat and catchy chorus) in conjunction with popular hip-pop trends, such as in Ariana Grande’s R&B-trap fusions on thank u, next. Benjamin indeed exists in very likeable territory for the genre — if he continues to put out material that plays to his effortless-feeling songwriting aesthetic, there is no reason why he should not be able to expand his success.

First building his career by performing his songs in the car parks of Shawn Mendes concerts, and subsequently handing out business cards, Alec Benjamin is a self-made artist, making his charm as a singer-songwriter all the more tangible. Between high-standing collaboration, YouTube series ‘Can I Sing For You?’ and an upcoming full-length project, Benjamin may be one to keep an eye on in the realms of pop music. He is in touch with his roots, and discusses all-important ideas of mental health, making the young artist’s material surely relevant in the landscape of the genre — not to mention the ever-popular hip-pop downcast aesthetic into which he taps (think Clairo, Charlie Puth, Troye Sivan). All things considered, Alec may well be one to watch.

Alec Benjamin’s debut record These Two Windows is available May 29 via Atlantic Records.

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Digital Culture Editor 2020/21, Film and History student.

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