Jay Bennett is best known as that dude that got kicked out of Wilco in that film about Wilco. One could get booted from worse bands, but the whole debacle has haunted Bennett, who has released three albums that hint at his gifts but mainly underscore why he was an excellent sideman.
Perhaps this is why Bennett's album is called "The Magnificent Defeat." There are moments, such as the Elvis-Costello-meets-the-Rolling-Stones-inspired "Replace You" and the poignant "Survey the Damage," that are indeed magnificent. Bennett has a habit of placing inspiration above shape, but this album (aside from the extremely messy opener "Slow Beautifully Seconds Faster") sees him balancing the two.
Still, Bennett must realize that he'll always be remembered for his days with Wilco, and a timely concession allows him to finally move on. A magnificent defeat? At least an enjoyable one.
- Michael Franco