Ben Lee

Awake Is the New Sleep

Ben Lee's made a career out of being obscure. But his longest dance in the spotlight -- dating Claire Danes -- is now the stuff of history. Lee claims his new disc, Awake Is the New Sleep isn't a "breakup" record, and that feels about right; when he was with Danes, his tunes were frequently unrequited tales. While the airy lovelorn songs still dominate this disc, Lee's psychology has gotten a bit darker, or at least on the occasion of the atmospheric "Apple Candy," a bit naughtier: "I wanna feel what he felt, I wanna touch what he touched," he sings on the dreamy threesome track. "I want you ... and I want him." Brad Wood, who produced Lee's charming solo debut, is back helming the boards, and helps birth some terrific sounds: the countrified folk of "No Right Angles," the clicketyclack rhythms of "Gamble Everything for Love," and the goofy hand-clapping singalong "Catch My Disease," which continues Lee's habit of name-dropping and self-effacement, as he laments that Good Charlotte gets played on the radio but his songs do not. Somewhere, Ben Lee is a rock star, even if it's only in his head.

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