It's easy to mess up lo-fi indie rock. If you do it wrong, it sounds precious, derivative and technically crappy. But when you do it right, it's delightful. Philadelphia singer-songwriter Katie Bennett and her band Free Cake for Every Creature make delightful lo-fi.
Talking Quietly of Anything with You is a tiny album of tiny moments. Ten songs, each under three minutes, feature Bennett whispering whimsical ditties about everyday life: writing poems, pictures of crushes on dressing room walls, what it feels like to move to a new city. Most songs are just Bennett and a few strums of guitar, though some have boy background vocals and, of course, a bit of clapping.
The effort seems influenced by late-'90s K Records outfits like Mirah, The Blow and The Softies—stuff that was twee before "twee" became a bad word. And why should it be a bad word? Listening to Bennett's soft, sweet and even cute songs is fun and pleasing. They're funny and emotionally affecting, even if they're syrupy (and even if they're over almost as soon as they've begun). On the title track, Bennett sings, "It took me years to believe I could still be quiet but uncompromising." That's a perfect description of this album.
Free Cake for Every Creature plays the ZACC Below Wed., Jun 21, at 7 PM, along with Adult Mom, Eriz Szalda-Petree and Wrinkles. $7.