Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The way it seems to go in the 23-year-old Esser's life is that he meets a girl, maybe a woman - actually, definitely a woman - and it's at this point, despite his abhorrence for it ever getting trickier than he'd like, the whole shootin' match gets complicated beyond reason and he's left with plenty to moan and groan about. Suddenly, this woman is more thorn than sugar and spice and it's getting dicey, so dicey in fact that the whole relationship begins to feel as if it should just be jettisoned, tossed into the wastebasket and forgotten about. The interesting way that this neo-soul crooner from Essex - Ben Esser is the young man's full band - takes with these situations is one of hyper aloofness, as if all of the lumps and bumps will get ironed out in due time, or else there's always the aforementioned wastebasket or dumpster. Esser has not yet released a proper album in the United States, with only a single for the song "Headlock" to his credit on Chocolate Industries, but the songs that he and his funk and boogie-soaked band chose for this session share a common theme of less than awesome situations with women and their demanding personalities. The songs are one-sided, coming directly from Esser's perspective and what we're bound to assume from them is that these women are control freaks without any sense of humor, with insatiable appetites for spending and material goods and little time or care for reciprocity or even compassion for their hard to deal with ways. They're just being typical woman, out for blood and money, or whatever it is they want to take. They might leave whomever in ruins, or at least in sour spirits, not knowing how to get rid of the leech. Where Esser finds these ladies is the real question, but the way he charms his way through these never hot and bothered songs of aggravation, is that this is just the normal route these kinds of interactions tend to go. You're not going to avoid them so there's no use in fighting, just recline, just mildly bellyache about the way things work out sometimes. With the first song here, aptly titled "Work It Out," there's been some disagreements amongst some Atari sounds, but the prevailing thought is that the relationship should be saved, even if that's the worst thing that can happen. Esser sings, "Lately, I heard that we've been fighting and I don't want to fight any more," and there's a nice tone of malaise applied to this leisure feeling of pleading with the lady in question that this is worth all the trouble and all of the trials. It's a let's get through it sort of proposition and yet, it feels like maybe the slate should just be wiped clean and each of the said parties should just turn away and set off to find a different tormentor/lover/tormetee. Esser's music is buoyant, even when the ship is going down quickly, plunging into the abyss, while he and his locked in bandmates are still clinging to their deck chairs, trying to still sip from their mimosas and iced teas, holding their sunglasses on with one hand and the newspaper open with the other. He goes on to write and sing about his tendency to get his foot stuck in his mouth, an admission that doesn't seem to weigh too heavily on him and then it's on to detailing his suffering even further with that single, "Headlock," where he's been trapped in a "rotten state," and there's nothing in the world that's going to help him now. It's such a bouncy number though that his desperation sounds like it could be on par with throwing a nice album on the turntable and leaning back with a bag of potato chips or some chicken wings. It's a no sweat sort of drift that we're taken through on Esser songs and, of course, that makes his recordings prime candidates for the club. They might even be bangers, if there was more of a driving pulse, but these are the wearied statements of someone that just likes to be on vacation, taking his fucked up relationships and work with him. Nothing's going to ruin his holiday, not even a money-grubbing, shoe-hungry woman who is prone to suffocating.
Esser Official Site