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Way to Normal (Deluxe Version)

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iTunes Review

Ben Folds has made a career out of being peeved. As pop/rock’s reigning Bard of the ‘Burbs, he has captured the aggravations of the ordinary guy better than just about anyone. After toning down his satiric side for a few albums, he gets nice and cranky again on 2008’s Way to Normal. Fold’s signature piano is in top form, nailing down the boogiefied beat on “Dr. Yang,” strutting with abandon on “Errant Dog,” and gliding into elegant balladry on “Kylie from Connecticut.” He nods in the direction of Elton John on “Hiroshima” (a semi-spoof of “Bennie and the Jets”) and invokes the robotic New Wave pop of Gary Numan on “You Don’t Know Me” (a playful duet with Regina Spektor). There are sweet moments, most notably the oddly tender “Cologne,” but Folds fans will especially gravitate towards his more pointed numbers, including the nervous “Free Coffee,” the scathing “Errant Dog,” the ultra-irritated “Bitch Went Nuts,” and the standout “Effington,” a portrait of a central Illinois town at once snide and affectionate. Way to Normal returns Folds to familiar turf, which is not a bad thing. His brand of normalcy remains uniquely his own.

Customer Reviews

Anger, Chaos, Random.

I can't think of another way to describe this album. It is overwhelmingly crazy from start to finish. There is no substance that moves me like Ben has done so masterfully in his past. If you are looking for more of the same, it's not here. The album does shine on Ben's humor and cynicism, but after awhile, "beating a dead horse" comes to mind. He's bringing a lot of anger from his recent divorce and spreads it across the entire album. I suppose there are some chaotic organized songs, but I'm not really loving it. This was a big change - not even waving a finger to Naked Baby Photos, Whatever, Reinhold, Suburbs, or Silverman. I'm disappointed, but I give two stars for Ben being Ben... just not the Ben I like.

Ben Folds Still Has His Amazing Talent

It's hard for someone to continune pumping out great albums over and over again, especially when Ben Folds released some of the greatest with "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner" and "Rockin' The Suburbs" being favorites of mine, but what makes this a great albums is that is still Ben Folds. Ben still cusses into the mic with a passion and still ends the album with another beautiful slow-paced song. I myself was worried where he was going with this album when I heard the single, "You Don't Know Me". Regina Spektor may have done well with the song, but it was still unexpected, so it put doubts in my mind. But let's cut this review short. If you're a fan of Bens last couple of albums at all, you're not going to be dissapointed with this outing. Maybe not his finest, but I dare you not to get sucked in when listening to "Cologne". Buy it now, Ben Folds fans.

Folds' Originality Shines Through Once Again

The catchy hooks are there. They're just harder to find. I'll be honest, I was a little shell-schocked after the first listen, but that's only because the album throws so much at you the first time that you're just trying to keep up and the core melodies can get lost. So I listened to it again. And again. And again. And now I'm completely hooked. Don't let the somewhat negative reviews deter you. These are from people who are criticising Ben for not being the Ben THEY want him to be. He can't keep churning out the same stuff he's been writing since the early 90's. It's a testament to his skill as a songwriter that he can keep on putting out original albums, while still maintaing the trademark Ben Folds quality. With that being said, don't think that Way To Normal still isn't Ben Folds, because it is. Songs for Silverman was nothing like Rockin' The Suburbs (and people hated on that), and Way To Normal is nothing like either of them. And for that I'm thankful, as Ben is truly one of the few artists out there who can be increasingly original in each of his albums without sacraficing core quality. Still on the fence? Consider Way To Normal a more raw, abrasive, and produced 2008 update of Rockin' The Suburbs. It's worth every penny.


Born: September 12, 1966 in Winston-Salem, NC

Genre: Rock

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

American singer, songwriter, and producer Ben Folds emerged in the mid-'90s as the leader of the power pop trio Ben Folds Five, before striking out on a successful solo career. Following a late-'80s stint playing bass for the band Majosha, the North Carolina native spent several years in Nashville working largely as a session drummer. Folds dabbled in acting after relocating to New York, while performing solo gigs around the city and further developing his piano and songwriting skills. Moving back...
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