Ben Brookes – ‘Integration (Not Segregation)’

Portsmouth, England native Ben Brookes is out with a new single called “Integration (Not Segregation)”. As you can imagine, it’s a political song where Brookes basically says that he’d rather be on Mars instead of here, given how much of a mess everything else. Brookes is working on releasing his first full-length album called The Motor Car And The Weather Balloon.

The opening is great- I’m a sucker for interesting effects at the beginning of a song. The guitar immediately reminded me of one of my favorite songs- “Girl With Golden Eyes” by Sixx:AM. The similarity doesn’t last long, but it was long enough to catch my attention. The music is easily the best part of this song. With talent like Joey Molland, Greg Inhofer, and Michael Bland working with Brookes on the upcoming album, I would expect nothing less.

Sometimes you can’t hear someone’s accent in their singing. Keith Urban comes to mind immediately- I was very surprised to find out that the was Australian. The opposite is true of Brookes. You know exactly where he’s from almost as soon as he starts to sing. While I do enjoy his vocals, it is a little difficult to understand the lyrics at times. It gets easier after a few listens and with the context clues, however.

Now, to the lyrics. When I saw the title, my interest was piqued, and I was looking forward to something that had substance, nuance, and left me thinking. Unfortunately, it only succeeded in one thing, which was giving me plenty to think of in terms of what’s wrong with the lyrics. I was unsurprised to see The Beatles listed as one of Brooke’s influences, as this song left me thinking of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Idealistic and ultimately pointless, this song looks at the issues plaguing the world and offers a (currently) impossible suggestion- why not just move to another planet? As if that would rid Brookes of issues that are entirely human-made altogether, especially if he’s suggesting that others should come with him.

Of course, I don’t expect Brookes to have the way to gain world peace nestled somewhere in the song, but I was hoping for a little more than this. I’m not here to make assumptions about what Brookes has to go through in his life, but the centrist approach in this song has me more than a little annoyed. Yes, it’s easy to just say that you’re leaving the planet when things get terrifying, but… that’s not going to help anything. It might help yourself, but that’s about it.

With all that said, the other components to “Integration (Not Segregation)” made me really enjoy the song, even if I can’t imagine that Brookes and I could see eye-to-eye on much. I’d suggest it to anyone that likes indie-pop and/or British artists, as it’s a song I think many people would very much enjoy. I am curious to hear the rest of the album. There was enough to like in the song that I’ll be sure to keep tabs on Brookes as he continues on this journey.

I’d also like to see if he ever makes it to Mars.

Victoria Patterson