Alec Benjamin's Hip-Hop tinged heartbreaker "Let Me Down Slowly" crackles with electricity and real, raw emotion.

What makes great pop music defies formula, much to the frustration of Pop progenitors who want to bid on the next big thing like pork belly futures. Even for those of us who listen to music all day, every day, like We Are: The Guard, it can be difficult to pinpoint that 'Wow Factor,' that celebrates the great from the mediocre.

What is it, then, about Phoenix, Arizona's Alec Benjamin's new one, "Let Me Down Slowly," that makes it so hair-raising, so chill-inducing? Is it Baldwin's gorgeous honeyed tenor vocals, dripping with sincerity, cracking with real emotion like veins of serpentine through raw marble. Is it the delicate, intricate fingerpicked guitars, doused in reverb and echo, as though heard from half-a-mile away. Or is it the warm, amniotic hip-hop beat, like listening to your lover's heartbeat through the ivory birdcage of their ribs?


Yes. All of the above. Alec Benjamin's subtle, graceful "Let Me Down Slowly" performs that act of pure pop alchemy, drawing inspiration from every style of underground music to make something real, personal. With so much Top 40 music being as shrill as an air raid siren, screaming 'PAY ATTENTION TO ME!' it's incredibly refreshing to hear someone whisper.

Alec Benjamin comes off as the quiet one at a party, perhaps lingering near a wall or in the threshold of a doorway. They won't self-promote, won't approach. They may go the whole night without speaking. Most of the time, they are overlooked for the self-promoters, the overly-drunk, or slightly amorous. We all fall prey to such self-promoters, much of the time. It's easy to believe what people tell you. It's easy to buy what you're being sold.

Sometimes, however, we go out on a limb. We talk to that shadowy stranger. Oftentimes, they reveal an Aladdin's cave of inner riches. They tend to be some of the most interesting, most thoughtful, most sincere, and kind people that you'll meet.

Take a moment and meet this newcomer to the party. Alec Benjamin's truly something special. His emotive indie pop has a hint of artful '80s rock, the kind Gotye resurfaced a few years back with "Somebody That I Used To Know." He's also got a bit of the indie folk intimacy of early Iron & Wine or Jose Gonzalez, all of which is polished to a tasteful, contemporary edge that would make Lorde envious.

Alec Benjamin gets We Are: The Guard's highest possible recommendation. Lean in.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.