Monday, September 29, 2008

Ben Folds

Add Date: September 30

Artist: Ben Folds

Album: Way To Normal

Label: Epic

Genre: Piano rock

Comments: I've been putting this review off for a couple of days, just letting Ben Folds' new album, his third official solo studio album and something like his tenth or eleventh actual release (including live stuff, b-sides, and his work with Ben Folds Five). This album is bookended by two fantastic songs: the first, "Hiroshima," recalls an embarassing performance injury in typical epic goofball Ben Folds fashion. And the closer, "Kylie From Connecticut" is a gorgeous little ode to a love affair, rendered with subtlety and simplicity as per Ben Folds' best work. Right in the middle of the record, "Cologne," is another nice vignette, recalling "Fred Jones Part 2" and other somber work the pianist has done.

But if you take note of the number of DNP tracks on this album, you'll see Folds litters Way To Normal with cursing and vulgarity, not in any sort of artful way, but more just to say he has. I love the Charlie Brown-meets-Billy Joel music of "Effington," but the lyrics irk me for being just a bit too out there. Ben Folds seems like he's trying too hard to do something different, a tricky move for an artist at this stage in the game. While different is good and has led to some of his best stuff over the years (don't tell me you don't know at least one verse from "Bitches Ain't Sh*t"), sometimes it's merely something you acknowledge, but don't remember. I still know all the words to "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces." I can only hope that I'll know the words to some of these a few years down the line.

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