Donny Benét – ‘Mr. Experience’ review: comforting nostalgia-induced pop for uncertain times

On his fifth studio offering, Benét expertly takes the past and twists it into something modern yet classic

From The 1975’s love of neon, sax and dirty dancing through the energetic workout of Dua Lipa’s ‘Physical’ to Stranger Things’ youthful nostalgia, the ’80s have never been cooler.

And then there’s the post-disco party of Donny Benét. Swapping the rose-tinted glasses for a disco ball and a hip-shaking confidence, he’s made no bones about being a guilty pleasure from the moment he Running Man’ed himself into our lives with the release of ‘Don’t Hold Back’ in 2011. Heck, it even came with its own karaoke DVD.

Over the top, brash and embracing the decade’s more questionable moments, Donny boy has never wanted to be cool. But he has always wanted to have a good time. The likes of 2014’s ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ and 2018’s ‘The Don’ were the product of excitable collaboration and that all together now spirit can be felt through the party-starting ‘Konichiwa’ or the lusty confetti rain of ‘Sex Tourist’. It’s music made for late-night dancing under the influence, hoping that no one else is watching.

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And while the party is definitely in full swing for album five, ‘Mr. Experience’ is a different beast. Created during the hotel room isolation of a world tour and released at a time where mass gatherings are an optimistic dream, Donny’s record takes on a wicked new relevance.

The opening boogie nights of the title track is an ode to age and experience while the honking synths of ‘Moving Up’ create a tropical wonderland that would sit perfectly next to anything from Glass Animals’ arsenal. ‘Second Dinner’ serves up the funk with Donny singing, “I could touch my toes once, could make love all night but these days it’s eating that gives me all my delight,” with a wicked glint in his eye. The decadence of that forbidden midnight feast is matched only by the lush indulgence of the twinkling electronics that’ll have you dancing around your kitchen.

Meanwhile ‘Girl Of My Dreams’ is a surprisingly sweet burst of instant attraction and heart-on-the-sleeve declarations. There’s no punchline, just a boombox held up outside a bedroom window and a chirpy, whistling refrain that’ll be stuck in your head for days.

The energy never lets up as Donny pulls shapes across ‘Mr. Experience’. Swapping irony for sincerity allows the record to run rampant with a rose between its teeth. ‘You Don’t Need Love’ is a pulsating lesson in self-love while ‘Negroni Summer’ is as sun-kissed as the name suggests while its joyous sax solo provides a brilliant burst of colour. ‘One Night In Paradise’ captures the golden hour, all fleeting beauty and anything-can-happen potential while the closing ‘Waterfall (Love Scene)’ provides a dramatic, instrumental escape, all rolling credits and arcade high scores.

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There’s a warmth to Donny Benét’s fifth album that rages with the way things are right now. As people turn to the comforting blanket of the music they grew up with to make a little sense of a world that simply doesn’t, ‘Mr. Experience’ takes the past and twists it into something modern yet classic. A party for one, ‘Mr. Experience’ makes a weird sort of sense right now.

Details:

Donny Benét Mr Experience

 

  • Release date: May 22
  • Record label: Dot Dash Recordings/Remote Control Records
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