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Way to Normal

Ben Folds

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Album Review

Ben Folds' seventh studio recording begins appropriately with an Elton John spoof. After a string of introspective albums, the old-school (as in Ben Folds Five era) "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)," with its bombastic strings, "Benny and the Jets"-inspired piano motif and not-so-subtle refrain of "They're watching me, watching me fall" marks a return to the snarky, sarcastic days of old when Folds' signature blend of nerdy bravado and apathetic melodiousness wrested dominance of the proverbial cheap, college dorm stereo from They Might Be Giants. Like all of Folds' records, Way to Normal is full of melodic hooks and witty, semi-obvious barbs. Folds rarely works in metaphor, so when he sings, "The bitch went nuts/she stabbed my basketball and the speakers to my stereo," that's really all that happened. Surprisingly, it's the quieter moments on Way to Normal like "Cologne," "Kylie from Connecticut," and to a lesser extent "You Don't Know Me" (the latter, a duet with Regina Spektor) that elicit the biggest thrills, but they're few and far between. Folds has always found a way to balance all of the privileged, rich-kid prickishness with moments of surprising profundity, but this time around the profanity and outrage feel more forced than usual — the aforementioned "Bitch Went Nuts" feels somehow more sophomoric coming from the mouth of a 42-year-old producer, composer, and father. Way to Normal may win a few fans back who balked at the newfound sincerity that peppered his last two or three records, but a little more nuance and a lot less displaced teen angst would have made it palatable for everybody. [Folds reissued Way to Normal in 2009 as a two-disc set called Stems and Seeds. Disc one featured the remixed, remastered, re-sequenced album in its' entirety, though without the excessive, radio-ready compression that accompanies most major label releases, while disc two featured files from the sessions that listeners could upload to "Garageband" and remix themselves.]

Customer Reviews

Awesome installment - Not quite what I expected

Judging by the two tracks that were leaked to the internet, I expected this album to be full of 'power' tracks. Instead I found it to be a mixture of slow, hard and.. synthy songs. Ben is taking gradually taking an interesting new direction. I look forward to seeing where he goes from here.

Great

Bens folds in my opinion is a fantastic musician, one of the very best, however doesn't release as many records as i would like. This album is packed with catchy tunes and some experimental effects. Overall not sure if its as good as rockin the suburbs however a very good album all the same!

Fabutastic!

I'm very excited about this new installment from Mr Folds. Yes, he has certainly been experimenting with different genres and sounds, but that does not take away from the awesomeness of this cd. It is still Ben Folds through and through. There are tracks that are remenisant of The Southland and The Divine Comedy, but all have distinct Ben Folds tones finishing each track off. You have some fast peices (so you can dance your socks off) and some more slow and melencholy (for those more pensive times). Get your air synth's out and enjoy this fantastic sound... Top Class!

Biography

Born: 12 September 1966 in Winston-Salem, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/pianist Ben Folds (born September 12, 1966, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) is best known as the leader of the power pop trio Ben Folds Five, but has also struck out on his own as a solo artist. Despite playing in bands in high school, his musical career didn't really get off the ground until the late '80s, as a bassist for Majosha (the outfit issued such obscure releases as Party Night: Five Songs About Jesus and Shut Up and Listen to Majosha). Proving his multi-instrumental talents, Folds...
Full bio