BENEE Is as Sweet as Ever on the Emotionally Expansive 'Lychee'
Photo: Lula Cucchiara
We first covered BENEE back in 2019 with the release of her single "Soaked." Since then, it is safe to say that the New Zealand alt-pop fairy has been consistently churning out tune after tune, from the whimsical "Find an Island" to 2020's defining Tik Tok hit "Supalonely." Today, BENEE is back and sweeter than ever with her new EP, Lychee.
Lychee is a seven-track project that invites the listener into the technicolor world of BENEE. Tackling themes of relationships, friendships, and finding herself in the midst of a pandemic, Lychee serves as an amalgamation of the whirlwind of thoughts floating through BENEE's brain, connected by dreamy synths and artful storytelling. The project was created on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, working in California with the likes of Kenny Beats and Greg Kurstin, as well as New Zealand with BENEE's go-to collaborator, Josh Fountain.
In addition to previously released tunes, "Beach Boy" and "Doesn't Matter," BENEE demonstrates her growth as an artist, especially on the standout track "Never Ending." Co-produced by Rostam, "Never Ending" unpacks the dynamics of a crumbling relationship. BENEE's lyricism is vulnerable and honest, immediately posing the question "Has your heart ever been broken, torn apart without you knowing?" As BENEE continues, she taps into bits and pieces of her childhood. The narrative intensifies, the production crescendos, kicking off with a melancholic electric guitar riff and a drum beat that soon find themselves decorated in 808s and melancholic cadences.
On the release of Lychee, BENEE shares, "Being locked down in New Zealand felt like things were going to be like this forever and like I was wasting time. I was afraid that I'd run out of ideas or I would find it difficult to get through this writing trip. However going into rooms with new production collaborators like Greg Kurstin and Rostam, and reconnecting with Kenny, was really liberating and actually let the energy I had been lacking back into my songs. There is something crazy about landing in LA from New Zealand and throwing yourself into songwriting. The exact same thing happened for me two years ago when I arrived in LA and wrote 'Supalonely' on the first day. I love that this EP has the emotional breadth to channel much of the anxiety that I was feeling at home in songs like 'Doesn't Matter' and 'Hurt You Gus' but then also switching the new energy found why writing 'Beach Boy' as well as 'Never Ending' which is my current favorite!"
Lychee is fittingly titled: it is soft, sweet, and tinted light pink, but its aesthetics don't take away from its resilient outer shell. BENEE has a unique way of juxtaposing "gentle" and "tough" in a way that not just makes sense but is instantaneously infectious. In both production and storytelling, Lychee has introduced us to a new era of BENEE, and we are entirely here for it.
This spring, BENEE is kicking off her world tour with the support of Dreamer Boy on the North American leg.
Listen to Lychee below: