These Two Windows
Atlantic Records · May 29, 2020
“Mind is a Prison” is a pristine example of Benjamin’s engaging story-telling. In this track, he pieces together a solemn chronicle about being a prisoner of his own mind. For a pop musician, he doesn’t hold back from gracing his lyrics with dark undertones, as he narrates, “So they tranquilized me, analyzed me, threw me back into my cage/Then they tied me to an IV, told me I was insane/I’m a prisoner, a visitor inside of my brain/And no matter what I do, they try to keep me in chains.” He also makes a callback to the album’s title, metaphorically referring to his eyes as his two windows as he decides to just go “where the wind blows,” giving listeners a foretaste of the album’s theme and what the rest of it will entail.
The melodic, snappy rhythm in “Demons” instantly captivates a passionate story about an individual who allows Benjamin to be vulnerable, helping him overcome his demons. Although the lyrics are repetitive, their message does not feel worn out as he expresses how grateful he is for the person’s patience, admitting,“For a moment I thought maybe I was doing alright/So I took your love for granted and left you behind/And I just didn’t understand, you kept me alive.” The acoustic interludes and bridge tie together the softness of the tune with his undisclosed appreciation.
Following a similar rhythmic pattern to “Mind is a Prison,” “Oh My God” continues the theme of reflection on the past. He opens up to his fans about his desire to be “homeward bound” and his disbelief at all he’s accomplished. He sings, “Oh my god, look in the mirror/I was young/nothing to fear once/what have I done, how did I get here?” The listeners are able to experience his incredulity with him and understand how he feels.
“Book of You and I” charmingly tells the story about a past lover before they fell apart. In his classic way of narration, Benjamin reflects with sorrow, “Don’t tell me that it’s over, the book of you and I/Now you’ve scribbled out my name/and you’ve erased my favorite lines.” Once again, his sincerity and passion is evident not only in his lyric content, but as well as in his distinguished, soft-spoken voice.
“Jesus in LA” is especially one of the best tracks in terms of a memorable acoustic guitar strum to go with Benjamin’s next reflection. Both this track and “Must Have Been The Wind” offer a twist in the narratives by making a switch from third point of view, then to first. In the former, Benjamin isn’t just talking about LA, but also how his possible figurative savior was not found in California, but rather wherever he went to pursue his music career. His main message is his love for being home, something many can relate to. “And it’s a crying shame I came all this way/’Cause I won’t find Jesus in LA,” he sang.
The last track of the album, “Must Have Been the Wind,” will make a listener feel simultaneously serene and sad as Benjamin walks them through events that have unfolded in his apartment. He tells the story of checking on a girl who denies she had been crying, claiming that it must’ve been the wind, hence the song title. He adds a twist at the end by singing, “Aim my boombox at the roof, I’m playing “Lean on Me”/Just so that she knows that she can lean on me”, adding a sweet ending to the track.
“Match in the Rain,” “I’m Not a Cynic,” “Alamo,” and “Just Like You” have yet to be released with the rest of the album. But if they are anything like the tracks described, Alec Benjamin will continue to pave the pathway for his success with his musical gifts, as he continues to use his unique style to bring his narratives to life.