Ben Folds- Way to Normal (2008)

My main impression of Ben Folds' new album Way to Normal is that it jumps all over the place, and it doesn’t feel like a coherent unit. If it wasn’t for Ben Fold’s voice in each one, I could convince myself I was listening to a playlist of random songs. There is a thread tying them together, but it’s a thin one, and unraveling in places. I have to give it a 5/10, because after the first five songs the album, in my opinion, really falls apart. I would not have bought this album, but would probably buy a few choice singles. Ben Folds is a veteran artist but this album nonetheless feels really immature, repetitive, and clunky, with uninspired lyrics. The second play through was a little more satisfactory, but my initial impressions still remained. I think this an album where different people will have vastly different opinions on it.

The first song, Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head) feels more like a joke song, like something someone would throw together for fun. It’s hard to imagine that he choose it for the opening number of his album. Dr. Yang is a crazed bombast of sound condensed into a very small space. It’s a really fun song with some fiery piano playing, and it stands out like a lightning bolt amidst a lot of other dull songs.

The Frown Song is a pretty good song, and compared to most of the others, great. It’s catchy enough, and decent listening. It’s more like the Ben Folds you probably know and love. You Don’t Know Me is a good single. It’s undeniably the most popular song, and out of experience I can tell you it’s extremely catchy. Before Cologne is only 50 seconds long, and serves no real point but filler. I really liked the next song, Cologne, because it’s grounded and enjoyable to listen to, with a nice soft melancholy that still has the energy of the other songs. It was the only one with lyrics that felt worth listening to.

Errant Dog is kind of a lame song. It has some corny rhyming in the lyrics which just bugged me, and the background music is a mashing jumbled mess. The singing and lyrics overall are pretty poor. Free Coffee is really just a vaguely musical recitation of a boring day. I’d rather just have a boring day on my own and not spend four minutes listening his lousy day. The opening to Bitch Went Nuts is kinda funny, but it’s just another reiteration of the shitty day song, only involving a crazy girlfriend. At least it’s sort of and more musical, but still… it’s just not a song I’d put on my iPod. It’s like a madman played accompaniment for a college Sophomore who’s just ranting about his girlfriend on YouTube.

Brainwascht was flat and really repetitive, non-memorable, or memorable in a bad way. Effington was bordering on interesting, meaningful, decent… but didn’t actually go there. It just came off as cheesiness building up into annoying clanging piano. The singing in Kylie From Connecticut is a little vapid, but otherwise it’s a decent song, still not particularly memorable, especially the plodding section in the middle of the song which is pretty much dead air and a single piano key stroke every ten seconds. But at least this song is easy on the ears.


Ben Folds- Cologne


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