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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bend - The Helpless EP

Bend - The Helpless EP
2009, Yoav Erez

Bend was born in Tel Aviv, Israel; the brain child of songwriter/keyboardist/lead vocalist Yoav Erez. While all members past and present have contributed to the sound of Bend, it’s inarguable that Erez has been the prime mover behind Bend, from founding the band to moving it to New York City to its musical direction. Elements of English icons such as Queen, Coldplay and Radiohead can be heard, but Erez' banging piano style will draw as many comparisons to Ben Folds as anyone else. Current mainstays on the New York City Indie circuit, Bend have documented their sound on The Helpless EP.

The Helpless EP opens with "Unpredictable", a funky rock tune full of eclectic piano stylings (ala Ben Folds) and a sense of energy and purpose that are infectious. Vocalist Yoav Erez has quite the range and a pleasant enough voice to overlook the occasional messy run on the fast-paced vocal lines of the song. "Stronger Than Me" is a lyric Elton John-meets-Radiohead moment that's surprisingly appealing. "Helpless" has an abject beauty that blooms into quintessence on a chorus full of hope and grace. "Changing Of Tides" a six-minute ballad with ethereal, new-age sensibilities blended into a gentle pop arrangement that's part Ben Folds.

Bend gets in touch with their folksy side on "See It Clear", a mellow rock gem with real vibrancy woven into the seams. The song takes on a life of its own, with a deep-seated urgency that's almost palpable wrapped inside a pretty melody that sounds like something Paul McCartney might have doodled one rainy afternoon. The Helpless EP closes with "Do It With You", a sweet love song that seems like it should be destined for a whole lot of mix tapes. The vocal levels are a bit off in this recording, buried a bit too deep in the instrumentation, but that's the only complaint that seems evident. This is a tune that will get your head bobbing, a near-perfect little pop gem that will insinuate itself into your brain and stay there for days.

The Helpless EP is a pleasant surprise; the sort of recording you might tend to blather on to friends about until they check it out for themselves. Even if it's just to make you stop, don't be surprised if most of your friends find the charm of Bend's EP too much to resist. Pure pop melodies in reserved arrangements that allow the simple beauty of the songs free reign are the order of the day, and Bend serves them up with aplomb. Even the apparent over-use of vocal masking software can't overcome the simple, infectious beauty of the songs on The Helpless EP, although hopefully Bend will see their way past such tricks in the future.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Bend at The Helpless EP is is available as both CD and Download from Amazon.

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