Donny Benét channels 80s influences with sly humor | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Donny Benét channels 80s influences with sly humor


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Donny Benét cuts a memorable figure—he plays up a lothario image in his music and often wears a bright white or salmon pink blazer straight out of Miami Vice. The Australian multi-instrumentalist’s look is seemingly crafted for maximum “Is he serious or not?” confusion, especially since Benét’s chosen paradigm is sly synth-dominated 80s disco-pop with a heavy bass groove. But there’s a huge gulf between disingenuous pastiche and a loving albeit tongue-in-cheek tribute to another era, and Benét clearly has a lot of admiration for his disco forebears. In a 2018 interview with Indie Berlin, he described his sound as “kind of a club band featuring Alan Vega, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, Prince, Falco, and Demis Roussos.” That “club band” bit is important—Benét isn’t just pulling from familiar names but also from the crack session players who were the backbone of that era, and affinity for their high-caliber musicianship is crystal clear in his immaculately crafted songs. His fourth and most recent album, 2018’s The Don, is chock-full of high-energy anthems that cover a range of topics, including skipping the gym for sex (“Working Out”), online dating (“Love Online”), and trying to save a marriage with a last-minute trip to Greece (“Santorini,” whose chorus features one of his most smug and clever rhymes: “I don’t want you to leave me / On the coast of Santorini”). Benét’s got depth to go with his hooks, though. His most recent single, “Girl of My Dreams,” is a tender ballad about persevering through heartbreak to build new connections. Anchored by a wistful whistle, it has a relaxing feel that makes it perfect for catching your breath with a slow dance.   v

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