Information on Years – or Ohad Benchetrit to his mum – is rather thin on the ground. He’s from Toronto, is a member of post-rock band Do Make Say Think, and has collaborated with that Canadian indie institution, Broken Social Scene (as, apparently, has everybody else who ever lived in Canada). That, apparently, is all you need to know.
This self-titled effort is his first as a solo artist, and what is immediately apparent is that Ohad does not shy away from a bit of self-indulgence: folkish melodies are given licence to wander like lost children before such love-ins are dispelled with encroaching white noise, or crashed into by demented cut-and-pasted drum loops. Those moments, however, are rare.
Much like the similarly well-measured work of Aidan Moffat (also known as Lucky Pierre), Benchetrit never allows his indulgences to obscure, and Years’ overriding quality is its timeless melody, wrought through any number of instruments overlooked in the mainstream.
The album’s opening gambit, Kids Toy Love Affair, glides across an orchestral nursery rhyme, more avant-garde solo streaks gradually coming to the fore in a rather glorious crescendo, as if scoring the opening credits of some poignant art house cinema piece.
Don’t Let The Blind Go Deaf then layers and builds any number of picked, stringed instruments in an exhibition of almost agrarian joy, before Hey Cancer… Fuck You! – apart from being imaginatively entitled – lulls gently until succumbing to the aforementioned white noise. It’s more like a bonus track in many respects.
Still, the album’s flow is retained, A Thousand Times A Day performing a fine balancing act between lethargy and a toned down The Jesus And Mary Chain instrumental. Similarly, The Assassination Of Dow Jones toes the line between uneventful folk pickery and a furiously strummed coda, the combination of which works extremely well.
Following a Yann Tiersen-esque ditty and a delicate vibraphone short, the Broken Social Scene nods and winks that run throughout the LP come to a head in the form of The Major Lift, whose deep, brassy drones and solos are both Years’ highlight and its Achilles heel; surely we’ve heard this before.
Nevertheless, Ohad himself puts it best, stating that his music – whether it makes you laugh or cringe – provides a marker for what he was like at a particular point in time, and hoping that others “make a connection and use this music to soundtrack the changing seasons to her/his own Years.” On the evidence presented, it’s hard to disagree, though one man’s soundtrack may just be another man’s background music.