Benji Hughes – Songs in the Key of Animals

Album Review by Andrew Gordon | 26 Jan 2016
  • Benji Hughes – Songs in the Key of Animals
Album title: Songs in the Key of Animals
Artist: Benji Hughes
Label: Merge
Release date: 5 Feb

Opening with a funky rundown of the guests at the Peacockin’ Party, including a monkey, a donkey and 'a penguin in a tux lookin’ so deluxe', Songs in the Key of Animals begins sounding like the Bojack Horseman concept album nobody asked for – hardly an outlandish prospect from the man whose debut was a double-album titled A Love Extreme. A subsequent track documents the friendliest shark attack on record, pairing shrill screams with whimsical synth lines, but Hughes soon leaves the animal kingdom in favour of tongue-in-cheek love songs delivered in a mellow blue-eyed soul style.

More They Might Be Giants than Father John Misty, the humour is light-hearted throughout, and Hughes is a gifted arranger, breathing warmth into his knowingly pastiche compositions with a bit of tenor sax here and an interesting counter melody there. There’s even the odd genuinely poignant moment too, like melancholy instrumental Song For Nancy, making for a likable comedy album that’s more than just a piss-take – a rare breed. [Andrew Gordon]