Benja’s debut EP, Ivy, sounds incredibly chill but is sneakily anxious.
Benja thinks he’s a slacker. Well, that’s how he describes himself on “Slacker,” an incredibly chill track from his equally chill debut EP Ivy. But one look at the resume of this Toronto-based artist and it’s evident that he’s far from work-shy: he collaborates with BadBadNotGood, Jonah Yano, and River Tiber, he’s producing the forthcoming K’naan album and working on a record with Odd Future member Hodgy.
The only way I would use slacker in relation to Benja is when describing his sound. Tendrils of slacker rock and bedroom pop are woven together on Ivy. Guitar notes wobble, Benja’s voice is gentle, and brushed percussion keeps a steady pace, ensuring that these six songs are never too drowsy. Benja seemingly has the confidence of someone who understands that there’s no need to rush through life.
As somebody who has been anxious for most of her life, though, I can’t help but look through the lavender-scented diffuser mist haze and hear the unease of Ivy. Throughout his EP, Benja confronts the anxious voice in his head that tells him he doesn’t work enough, that the world is a scary place, and that he’s a source of worry for his partner. On “Tokyo” (a song inspired by the movie Lost in Translation), he aches under the city’s bright lights, and the title track finds Benja wrapped in longing for his girl. But just when I think Ivy is really for anxious people who have been mistaken as easygoing, I return to “Slacker” and hear something else: “I’m not broken, I’m in process,” sings Benja. Now that’s a very cool-headed conclusion.
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