Singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin broke out in 2019 with his mixtape Narrated For You, which was streamed 540 million times worldwide. His debut album, These Two Windows, is short and sweet with only seven tracks, but that makes it no less complete in quality.
The indie pop artist is known for songs with descriptive stories. The album sheds light on love and heartbreak through a new lens, alternating between whimsical acoustics and lighthearted lyrics and deep, sultry emotions. However, the second half of the album shifts to a more self-focused message as he gives a glimpse of who he is on the inside—and who he was in the past.
The best aspect of the lyrics is how Benjamin uses nature-related analogies to explain the different phases and feelings associated with love. He opens with “A Match In The Rain,” which is a breath of fresh air for any listener who is looking to release frustration caused by a relationship. The song begins with mellow piano and pulsating beats before Benjamin enters with angelic-sounding vocals as he describes how trying to “bring back the flame” of a relationship is like “flying a kite in a hurricane,” with the pre-chorus transition echoing, “clouds are rolling in, I feel you drifting away.”
“Must Have Been the Wind” creates an almost dreamlike state with acoustic-heavy verses and soft vocals, until percussion tones rise and fall with the choruses and bridge. The song is lyrically poignant, as the words hint at Benjamin overhearing a possible domestic violence situation.
“The Book of You & I” is a nostalgic look back at the beginning of a young relationship as Benjamin says goodbye to that chapter of his life in a storytelling format. The track has a folk pop sound dominated by acoustic guitar that creates a wind-chime effect, along with quiet vocals. Piano rises in the chorus to heighten emotion. The second verse shows some resilience as Benjamin reveals he has “bought a pen” and “turned the page.”
These Two Windows’ features single “Demons,” which shows Benjamin’s vulnerable side as he works through his insecurities with help from a friend. A little more melodically upbeat than the previous tracks, “Demons” uses acoustic palm-muting and repetition to make for a head-bopping tune as Benjamin shows gratefulness for someone: “even when I hit the bottom, you never let me drown.” Meanwhile, he goes on to be less optimistic on “I’m Not a Cynic” and “Mind Is a Prison.”
Alec Benjamin closes out the album with “Oh My God,” where he looks in the mirror to see how he has “burned another candle” and is “running out of oxygen,” creating a sense of anxiety, regret and loneliness. The song builds from its initial piano ballad feel to having a bigger pop presence as the drums play off of Benjamin’s powerful vocals in the choruses.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Benjamin was scheduled to kick off his North American tour in mid-April, which included a stop at Coachella.
Follow writer Amelia Parreira at Twitter.com/AmeliaParreira.