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The album title for French Cassettes’ new album Benzene—is neither an allusion to the dangerous fossil fuel byproduct, nor is it a nod to the anti-anxiety drug Benzos, but rather a twist on Huerta’s family nickname, ‘Benz’. “I wish I had a better explanation,” Huerta admits. “I guess I should have Googled it first.” The self-deprecation is classic Benz, as is this crossing of the wires between the flippant and the deeply meaningful. It’s one reason the San Francisco band’s third album holds up so well to repeated listens. Even when influences like The Magnetic Fields and The Beach Boys peek through, Huerta’s lyrical aesthetic is his own, and Benzene is packed to the gills with funny, memorable one-liners that take a twist for the heartbreaking. “My mother’s mother talks in comic sans,” he sings. “I will never not love her. I wish there were more emails to read.” Their last album, Rolodex, was a painstaking six years in the making, with perfectionist tendencies, anxiety and grief all playing roles in the delay. On Benzene — recorded and produced with the band’s cofounder Mackenzie Bunch and drummer Rob Mills — they have let their proverbial hair down. And while the album bears evidence of a band more comfortable both taking risks and taking it easy, they still never miss an opportunity to do something interesting. Melodically, production-wise, lyrically: There is always room to add another hook, a new harmony, a strange sound, or a little secret handshake of a lyric.‚Äč

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