"I've got six guitars I can barely play and a questionable singing voice as well. But I get my joy out of little things like just sitting here trying to play and sing". So begins the first song "Patience" on "Fidatevi", the first solo record for Ben Weasel (Screeching Weasel). To me this album had the familiar Weasel sound to it, but was still able to pull away from SW's shadow and create some beautiful and touching lyrics.
Fidatevi means to have trust in one's self and trust in others. I think that on this release Ben has come to trust himself to write a emotionally powerful album, and is trusting his fans to understand and accept it. Ben says that the lyrics on this album were "based on experiences or insights gained by practicing secular sitting meditation as well as ideas I came across and personalized through the study of the works of authors as diverse as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Henry David Thoreau, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, Ralph Waldo Emerson and others." Now when I read this, I was wondering what the hell is he talking about, sounds like he's become a hippie or something, but that changed after a few listens and I think I have found an understanding of what he wanted to accomplish.
From what I have read and heard, Ben was very proud of "Emo" (which I actually liked) but was disheartened by the fans' reaction to this and wrote "Teen Punks In Heat" to sound how the fans wanted it, not how he wanted it to sound. Could this disappointment in his artistic vision be part of the reason for the break up? Perhaps, but I think that this album was a step in the healing process. I believe that this album is a journey of acceptance of what he has accomplished and become. Gone are the snotty "I'm an asshole, but you're worse" songs and have been replaced by songs about being positive, seeing the beauty in the world and remembering to breathe and live your life for yourself.
Musically it's not a great departure from what Screeching Weasel were known for, the guitars aren't as fast, and more melodic, even breaking out some acoustic for the cover of the Kinks "Strangers," but the tunes and the melody are definitely there. The easiest way to describe the sound on this album is Screeching Weasel with less of a Ramones influence and more of a Crimpshire, or if you don't know them, think "Emo" only much better. Ben is joined on this album by former band mate Dan Vapid (Screeching Weasel, Methadones, Sludge Worth, Mopes) on guitar, bass, and backing vocals and Matt of Teen Idols fame pounding the drums.
Overall this release is actually really good, and while it may take a couple of listens for some people to understand, I think that it's one of those albums that only gets better each time I listen to it. It has that quality in it, that each time you listen you notice a line or two there that means more to you than the last time you heard it. I would recommend this album for all Screeching Weasel fans, emo fans, and people struggling through a tough or complicated time.