Donny Benét injects his Italo disco-inspired funk sound with (even) more heart and emotion on the stellar Infinite Desires.

Release date: February 29, 2024 | Donnyland Records | Facebook | Bandcamp

Suave. Smooth. Cheekily self-aware. There’s a lot of things you can call the persona Australia’s Donny Benét has crafted, and pretty much all of them would be indisputably positive. Since he first burst onto the scene with 2011’s Don’t Hold Back, Donny Benét has been a delightful anachronism. His blend of Italo disco grooves, funky attitude, and slick 80’s pop influence is a formula for endless head bobbing and toe tapping. My own journey with him started with 2020’s stellar Mr. Experience, an album I still break out regularly when I just need some great funk. And while digging through his discography turned up nothing but bangers, it definitely seems like he’s been building strength to strength as his career progresses.

It’d be fair to say, then, that you would expect his new album, Infinite Desires, to be Benét’s best work yet. And to my ears, you would be damn well right to assume that. Infinite Desires is a synthesis of everything good through Benét’s career so far, with some clear personal evolution lending more weight to the whole affair. Everything fans could expect from Donny Benét is here: phenomenal bass playing, lush synthesizers, restrained but emotive singing, and more catchy hooks than the law should allow.

But something about the attitude has changed in a way that makes Infinite Desires feel more vulnerable and honest than past albums. Not that Benét has never let real emotion shine through, of course. But whereas past songs like “Mr. Experience” had a sense of tongue-in-cheek bravado, or a song like “Negroni Summer” wrapped any sadness in a feeling of warm hope and leisure, much of Infinite Desires feels more direct and impacting.

This feeling is perhaps most clear on “So Long”, which deals in finding the strength to sever a toxic relationship, or the contemplative “Wait Until It Rains Tomorrow” with its message of pushing through adversity. “Forbidden Love”, somehow sounding like a spiritual successor to The Human League’s “Human”, faces up to infidelity with a strangely moving wash of synth and emotion, and Benét even deals in some social commentary with “American Dream”. It’s interesting as a long-time listener hearing Benét’s more thoughtful, less humorous approach to lyrics here, but it works wonders.

That’s not to say fun time is over by any means. Opener “Multiply” still draws from the same sensual well as past albums, propelled by a killer slap bass performance. Also, mid-album banger “Consensual Loving”, which features the single guest spot in the form of some sublime sax from Daniel Waples, is a wonderfully bouncy track all about wholesome, mutually accepted love-making. But Benét’s more serious moments serve as a great contrast to his happier songs, and give the album an excellent range of emotion to work with.

Stepping back from lyrics, it has to be said that the musicianship across this album is just impeccable as always. Of course, it’s all Donny Benét beyond the aforementioned guest spot, as is usual for him. His bass mastery is probably the central backbone of the album, be it the punch lines of “Multiply”, the muted picking of “Wait Until it Rains Tomorrow”, or the slinky synth bass of “Forbidden Love”. The synths are likewise stellar (check out that synth solo towards the end of “So Long”), the guitars are tasteful and textural across the board, and the drum grooves are simple but perfect for any given moment. While Donny Benét‘s singing is never too flashy and self-indulgent, it always delivers just the right amount of emotion, and is a definite highlight throughout. Add to that a pitch-perfect retro production that feels warm, classic, and clear, also handled by Benét, and Infinite Desires is just sublime any way you cut it.

Between this and Mildlife’s Chorus, Australian funk is just killing it lately. I could honestly see a strong case being made for any song here being a favorite for any prospective listener, but at a lean 36 minutes, Infinite Desires is an album best enjoyed straight through. As usual, Donny Benét has crafted a warm, nostalgic blanket of glittery disco and grooving funk that’s an absolute treat for the ears. The fact that’s it’s a more mature album that can touch your heart and soul just sweetens the deal. The Don’s certainly still got it, and better yet, he just keeps getting better.

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