I really don’t want to write this review. I was REALLY sad when, in 2000, Ben Folds Five folded. I’d been listening since they signed to Caroline Records in the UK back in 1995. I LOVE piano pop and there are few better than Ben Folds with his ear for a killer melody and brain for a wonderful lyric. Ben went solo, released some great albums (and Fear of pop), but – and I know I maybe i’m on my own on this – he went off the boil.
“Way to normal” was when the rot set in for me. Before Cologne was lovely, but on the whole it just felt like he phoned it in.
The a capella album “Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella” could have been great. There were tonnes of things submitted on YouTube and some were good, but the album? Pffff.. Just didn’t work at all for me. The production seemed to be greatly lacking.
A collaboration with writer Nick Hornby. A match in heaven. It should have been, oh it should have been. But for me? No.
Then – and then. After thirteen years of waiting. A NEW Ben Folds album. Along with thousands of others I signed up to PledgeMusic to help get it made. Eventually (in advance of the CD copies being sent out) a link to download it. I was literally scared to listen. It had been such a long, long wait and the weight of expectation hung heavily on me.
The opening seconds marked it out as the recognisable Ben Folds Five sound which has been pointed out is as much about Robert Sledge’s bass as Fold’s piano.
I have never wanted an album to work as much as this one. It was just washing over me and absolutely nothing was sticking. I listened twice and bar the Boxing-esque waltz of the final track I wouldn’t be able to hum any of melody lines, quote any of the lyrics. I am heartbroken.
I’m going to carry on listening and listening because I NEED this album to work.
In Ben’s song One Down he said:
People tell me
Ben, just make up junk
And turn it in
But I never was alright with turning in
A bunch of shit
Don’t like wasting time
On music that won’t make you proud
But now I’ve found a reason
To sit right down and shit some out
Oh Ben, say it ain’t so.
This was the review I didn’t want to write.