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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The love and heartbreak of ’12 Notes’

Alec Benjamin’s latest album hits close to home
Atlantic Records/Wikimedia Commons

It’s been two weeks since “12 Notes” by Alec Benjamin came out — and I don’t think I have listened to anything else since. 

Now, anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes in my car knows that that’s nothing unusual, his songs make up the majority of my playlists. So I might be a bit biased. 

But there’s just something about this album that catches you and won’t let you go until you’re done listening. And then you start again. 

And while I know nobody is probably interested in my song-by-song thoughts, if you got this far, you’ll survive. 

I’m not really a music person — which is a gentle way of me saying I’m tone-deaf — so yes, I did have to Google to find out that there are 12 notes in music. Which suddenly made the chorus of the title track “12 Notes” a lot more impactful. 

I might not have a lot of experience with love, but I think this song sounds like it should feel. 

I wasn’t expecting a Khalid collab, but “Ways To Go” quickly climbed up to one of my favorites. It also started the chain of rather somber lyrics to an upbeat song in this album that I’m simply a little bit obsessed with. 

Now, I don’t know whether Benjamin was ever an international student, but “In A Little” is heartbreaking to me. In a good way, if that makes any sense. All I’m gonna say is that when I heard “So I’ll leave here in the morning, but I’ll leave behind my heart / I won’t be grieving, won’t be mourning even as / my plane departs,” my jaw actually dropped. 

“Different Kind of Beautiful,” “Pick Me,” “Sacrifice Tomorrow” and “I Sent My Therapist To Therapy” all came out as singles before the album dropped, and while they all follow each other their meanings can give you whiplash. 

We go from absolute yearning in “Different Kind of Beautiful,” through the only time I’ll ever say the phrase “Pick Me,” to the long-awaited “Sacrifice Tomorrow.” And while I’m incredibly happy we finally got this one, I’m still waiting for “Pretending.” But that’s just me. 

“I Sent My Therapist to Therapy” deserves its own essay and I think the name speaks for itself. If I were to write my thoughts about this one down, there’s a real danger of getting a tad too personal. 

Now, “The Arsonist” was a painful song on its own, but once Benjamin admitted he wrote this song as an apology to his mother after a huge argument they had, I folded. As someone who has a hard time to admit when I’m wrong, this one was hard to hear. 

“Lead Me To Water” is my favorite song on the album. If you know, you know. 

And while the majority of the internet is freaking out over Kendrick Lamar’s hate lyrics in “euphoria,” my jaw dropped after I’ve heard the pre-chorus of “By Now.”

“You’re the blue song on my red guitar / Raindrop on my brand new car / Roadblock on a fresh strip of highway / On an otherwise sunny day / You’re that one speck of gray / Only thing standing in my way.” 

Needless to say, I’m going to be using these as contact names for some people. 

“King Sized Bed” is the last track that came out before the album, which means I had plenty of time to realize how sorrowful the lyrics actually are even if they are hidden behind the upbeat music. 

And once you think you are done, the album hits you with “Love the Ones Who Leave,” which is the fastest reality check I’ve ever gotten from a song.  

I’ve been listening to Benjamin’s music for years now. I screamed my lungs out at his concert back in 2022 and I’ve learnt most of his songs by heart. So it’s not a surprise that since “12 Notes” came out the album holds a dear spot in my heart and I can’t stop listening to it.

I’ve waxed enough poetry about Benjamin’s lyrics for a lifetime. That’s not all that makes his music great though. 

I’m going to reiterate that I am not a music person, so I’m not exactly equipped to dissect his use of tones and notes and instruments. But while a lot of my friends complain that his songs are melancholic and somber — and some are to be fair — every single one is full of emotion. 

And that is what makes his music so special to me. 

Twelve notes just simply isn’t enough to express the genius that is Alec Benjamin.

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Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief

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    AseelMay 28, 2024 at 9:38 am

    Songs alec very awesome but I feel like… alec sadness all him Songs about love I’m from the Arabic country and I’m begfan to alec

    I hope reading my words

    Yeah happy birthday alec 🎂 🥳 🎊 🎉