Friday, November 14, 2008

Way to Normal by Ben Folds

I've been a fan of Ben Folds for a long, long, time. I've seen him more than just about any other artist/band/act. I've driven - well, I've been in a car for more than six hours - to go see him in a gym in Oswego, NY. In fact, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, I'm pretty sure I used to have a login ID to a Ben Folds message board; and, I'd count Whatever and Ever Amen and Ben Folds Live as two of my, say, 50 favourite albums ever. Then, there was the disaster that was ... I don't even remember... googling... googling... Songs for Silverman.

Folds, I thought, was always his best when he was punchy, critical, and telling hilarious stories (fictional or not) about crazy shit, and since he's got married and had a daughter he's probably been doing his best work writing music for children's movies.

My first impression of Way to Normal is that he's trying to return to that energetic story telling that made him (kindof) famous. Pitchfork has, surprisingly, decided that they don't really buy his act anymore. And, after a few listens, neither do I. I do really like the first song 'Hiroshima (B-b-b-benny hit his head)', but that's the only story that: a) is not really boring; b) doesn't feel like he's trying to relive his youth by pounding on the keys for just about no reason; or c) more generally, writing songs just to write.

Frankly, I think he ought to just embrace the stage of life that he's in and maybe start writing songs about going to Bed, Bath & Beyond... so, in the words a once great song-writer "give me my money back/give me my money back, you b@#ch"


Question Mark said...

Rocking the Suburbs is one of the best albums of the last decade. Fact. [/Gervais]

Sean Wraight said...

I could not agree more Rob. Ben Folds was someone who once made important music in my life and now the output does in no way come close to the import it once held.

I thought my tastes were evolving but perhaps Ben just forgot to do that himself.

Great post. You really nailed it.