Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#88: Ben Folds Five - The Sound and the Life of the Mind (2012)

Welcome back Ben Folds Five.

I'm officially old. I've finally reached the age where all my favorite bands from my past have reconciled and are putting out a new album (see: Matchbox Twenty). Ben Folds has absolutely matured since his BFF days, but it’s even more interesting to see how the other musicians have changed and how it ultimately affects their sound.

Erase Me
This song is BFF at their best. They were once dubbed “punk rock for pussies” and this song follows in that tradition.  What I’ve always admired about the trio is their transitions. This song goes through a number of them, from an eerie type beginning to a bouncy rock number. The harmonies are superb and the lyrics are sharp – one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album.

Thank You For Breaking My Heart
The music is exquisite - the piano is soulful, simple, and sweet. It’s the depth of the music from track to track that really allows this record to hold your attention for its entirety. The song’s title isn’t a thinker, nor are the rest of the lyrics, but it has a universal appeal to it. It’s Ben’s most “thoughtful” song since ‘The Boxer’.

Draw A Crowd
While they have absolutely matured throughout the album, this song proves that their still kids at heart. What a cool, yet simple piano lick to hold it together. “If you can’t draw a crowd, draw dicks on the wall.” This song also contains the best lyric on the album, “I only wanted to be Stevie Wonder, but I got to settle for this vanilla thunder.”

All in all, it’s a solid return for a solid band. They do so many things right throughout the 45 minutes left and in terms of recording quality, it's their best album. They've been a big part of my musical development and they will hopefully continue putting out music for many years to come - I’d still like to think their best work is ahead of them. They mix rock, ballads, a capella, jazz, and blues all into the same pot and the results are truly special.

Tomorrow's album: Dusty Springfield's A Girl Called Dusty.

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