“You always said that I’d come back to you again
‘Cause everybody needs a friend, it’s true
Someone to quiet the voices in my head
Make ’em sing to me instead, it’s you”
Singer and actor Ben Platt is making himself known. Thanks to playing the titular role in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen and Benji, the socially awkward but magical singer featured in the Pitch Perfect franchise, Platt has been able to branch out and drop a new 12-song album. (Platt will also be starring in a Netflix original entitled The Politician come September). With musical theatre-style angst and good life lessons thrown in along the way, Sing to Me Instead is a pure joy at every moment.
“Hate to say that I’m lonely
Hate to say that I miss you
Hate to say that it’s dark in here
But it’s true, oh”
This song has a deeply personal feeling, almost conversational. The emotional piano contributes to the angst that somehow works in this song. Additionally, the simple but beautifully wistful vibe gives Platt a chance to show off his vocal chops.
“Ease My Mind”
“But when you collect me with your steady hand
With a language that I understand
I feel put back together inside”
The gospel-style singing that bookends the song is a little cheesy but calms down the intensity in the middle. The message is sweet and unique for a pop song. The theme of a partner, romantic or platonic, being the only one able to calm you down is common throughout the album. Mental health struggles and support are arguably the core of Sing to Me Instead. While most of the songs are romantic, there are subtle references to fresher topics like the importance of self-love and self-care in relationships.
“When the world around is caving in
And the winds, well, they keep on changing
Take my hand and let it spin
We’ll hold still”
This song is pretty reminiscent of something that would be on the radio. Its catchy but emotionally charged melody plays like a pop song. Of course, this doesn’t knock it down any pegs, because I can picture almost anyone belting it into a hairbrush.
“Grow As We Go”
“You won’t be the only one
I am unfinished, I’ve got so much left to learn
I don’t know how this river runs
But I’d like the company through every twist and turn”
The first acoustic song on the album so far, highlighting Ben’s softer vocal range. While the style isn’t as groundbreaking as other songs on this album, the message is pure and kind, as well as a good precedent for relationships. It feels very personal, and the gentle background music is calm without being boring.
“There’s something about you in the moonlight
But your eyes go so well with the day
You won’t let go of your layers
But your power can strip me away”
This song is sweet. Something about it feels different, light and sunny, but with a layer of sadness. The simple melody of the intro builds up into the explosive chorus, which seems like Ben just being himself and enjoying the ride.
“Hurt Me Once”
“If you keep it going
Then one by one, the memories will start to blur
You’ll ruin the good ones
But I guess my photo album’s none of your concern”
Here comes the first breakup song on the album, introducing a handful of tunes that aren’t my favorite, but all discuss different kinds of breakups. Hurt Me Once isn’t an angry song, but practically pitiful. Throughout the course of the song, Ben pleads with a partner to simply break up with him, the pain palpable in his voice. Still, he sticks up for himself, his independence developing until the end.
“Oh, and somewhere in your room
I left my virtue and my favorite shoes
I don’t want ’em back, never give ’em back to me”
This song is bright and is one of the only songs on the album that makes you want to dance, rather than contemplate the meaning of life. It seems like Platt is enjoying himself, enjoying the lyrics and melody. It doesn’t quite sound exactly like his style, but it works so well.
“I’m a lost, lonely one here who’s addicted to holding on
I don’t have you to kiss now and I’m putting myself to sleep
But it’s me that I miss now, there’s a me that I didn’t keep”
This may be the most “far out” song on Sing to Me Instead. The message of Better is hard to understand on the first listen. Platt sings about how much of yourself you give to your partner when in a relationship and discusses how breakups can feel like losing a part of yourself.
“Share Your Address”
“I want your friends to be my friends
I’ll make you breakfast in your bed
I want it all with you
And if I’m coming on too strong
It’s ’cause I’ve waited far too long
For someone just like you”
This song jumps right in. It has a naivete about it that isn’t in the other songs on Sing to Me Instead, including lines about a perfect life together and not becoming something darker. It’s a bit of a bop, with a joyful edge and an eagerness about it. It’s a break from the, well, angst of the rest of the album.
“In Case You Don’t Live Forever”
“We, we’ve only got so much time
I’m pretty sure it would kill me
If you didn’t know the pieces of me are pieces of you”
I really like this song. It’s one of the only non-specifically romantic songs on the album, with simple lyrics and brilliant vocal runs. And the intense view of morality that literally starts and ends the song doesn’t darken it, but instead keeps the song light and not gushy.
“When you are younger, you’ll wish you’re older
Then when you’re older, you’ll wish for time to turn around
Don’t let your wonder turn into closure
When you get older, when you get older”
This song feels like a lot of the other songs on the album, one that you cry to, or wave your flashlight to. Its thoughtful message about feeling stuck in your age is intimate for a first album, but the warmness is appreciated.
“I may not be wise
And I won’t save the day
But look in my eyes
And know I’ll always stay”
While this is not my favorite song on the album, it is certainly the most emotional. The song tells the story of multiple relationships and a sweet phrase that links them all together. The storytelling factor of the song harkens to Ben’s musical theater background, while the ambiguity of the “characters” keeps it simple and relatable enough to be a pop song.
Overall, Sing to Me Instead is a powerful album, its gentle themes mixed with Ben’s strong vocal talent making it a close-to-perfect collection of songs. While this is only the first step Ben has taken into the world of pop music, I’m sure we can expect great things from him in the future, such as finally breaking from musical theatre stardom into the mainstream consciousness. Sing to Me Instead is romantic, joyful, and powerful, a timeless album that means something different to every person who hears it.