So I am a day behind. What can you do. The album came out yesterday and I am giving you my two and a half cents today…
A bunch of us were discussing how there are very few album release “events” any more… Albums that we were anxiously anticipating and pre-ordering and genuinely getting excited for. I think part of it has to do with the web, and how things are caught digitally and much earlier on. I am not talking about illegal downloads or copying… Just simply that you can listen and download and buy online, which is just somehow not as much of an event as having to go to the record store… nor as exciting and thrilling.
The web also allows many, many more bands to get their music out into the world. This is a mixed blessing. The good, of course, is discovering things we may never had a chance to hear. Careers being made that might have otherwise gone under the radar and might have stayed unfulfilled dreams. The bad… there is so much music, it takes a whole second life to weed through it and listen to it all. Not always a bad problem… and of course our peers help us whittle away the fat and lead us to things they think we’ll like, but still…
You know how it used to go… At least I hope you remember… the buzz, the build up and then release day! Boom!
BFF… This group and album is one of those rare exceptions for me.
Believe me, I am fine with downloads… especially after looking at my shelves filled with physical compact discs… and the boxes filled with the ones that cannot fit on the shelves… I love them… I love my records, but boy… I need some more space and soon. I am overrun by stuff.
As soon as I heard this album was coming out, I put the date on my calendar and alerted the media… I mean my friends… the media already knew!
Ben Folds Five – The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind
I have been enamored with this band from the first moment I heard them on 101.9… you know, back when it was an amazing “Adult Alternative” radio station. Their debut is still my favorite. When Ben Folds went solo, I went with him. He is an amazing writer and storyteller, a phenomenal musician and performer, and the one artist I call my true musical Doppelganger. He writes and sings about things I thought were only in my mind. Thanks, Ben.
And thanks to Robert Sledge on bass and Darren Jessee on drums! These three make a lot of beautiful sounds.
So I will admit I am still trying to fully embrace the opening track. “Erase Me” is a bit bombastic for me. I am not a softy, nor turning into one, but from initial listen that is my take. I have heard the whole album three times now and I am sure things will grow on me… but we’ll see if that one does.
Track number two “Michael Praytor, Five Years Later” is more in my Ben Folds pocket… Guess I do love retro sounding rock/pop. Love the piano and harmonies on this one.
“Sky High” brings things down a bit more… the piano, the melody… beautiful… but AllMusic says it and the ballad “Away When You Were Here” kill “the momentum that was so skillfully applied before it.” Okay… you may be right on that… maybe… Go listen to that first track again, Marc! Go!
AllMusic calls this record a “full-on dose of their signature blend of nostalgia and snark.” They continue… “the frenzied “Do It Anyway” and the propulsive title cut, which was co-written with Lonely Avenue collaborator Nick Hornby, are right in the band’s wheelhouse, but Folds’ has made a name for himself as a proper AOR balladeer since the group’s demise, and the Sound of the Life of the Mind reflects that change, allowing for a ballad-to-rocker ratio that slightly favors the former.”
Yeah… okay… I do love his ballads. Hard not to IMHO! That is texting code… Hip, ain’t I??? And this record is a bit ballad heavy. The title track is an absolute stunner… so far my favorite track on the record, along with “Do It Anyway”, of course. AllMusic gets me…
Love the strings on “On Being Frank” and the lyrics:
“I had a dream. But dreams had other plans for me.”
Sometimes… often in fact… Ben’s lyrics cut me to the bone, the quick, the marrow…
I love the Brian Wilson/Beach Boys opening to “Draw A Crowd” which quickly moves into clever and sarcastic Ben Folds territory with the chorus:
“Oh-oh if you’re feeling small, and you can’t draw a crowd
Draw dicks on the wall.”
The album closes so strongly with two drop dead gorgeous tracks… so thank you boys… “Thank You For Breaking My Heart.”
What is a bit odd, and I have never made this comparison or connection, but that last track totally brought my brain to start singing The Pearlfishers’ “The Umbrellas Of Shibuya”. This is from the album Up With The Larks, and is some of the most gorgeous pop music you will ever hear… Check them out on Spotify. I would not normally connect them to Ben Folds, but for whatever reason that is where my brain went.
This is a wonderful record and I am really hoping we will get to see the boys live. So far no LA/Cali dates! Come on my BFFs!!!