In 2012, I warmly welcomed back Ben Folds Five after a long absence. The group was easily one of the best bands of the 1990s and, even with Folds' solo work keeping me company, it had been too long. Folds plays a much more percussive piano when he's with these guys and I missed Robert Sledge's distorted bass. This is the trio's first studio album since 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, but I didn't care for that album or Naked Baby Photos, so I'm going to think of this as their first studio album since 1997's Whatever And Ever Amen. Great stuff here; I like the way Folds' songwriting has matured. He seemingly grew up listening to the same music as me, has a great ear for melody, and likes to throw in some unexpected chord progressions from time to time. Add some lyrics so clever I actually pay attention to them and, baby, you got a stew goin'. A solid return to form; if they ever decide to travel to my corner of the world, I need to catch their act live ASAP.
Currently, this is my second favorite BFF album to Whatever And Ever Amen. In addition to some great songs, I enjoy the artwork by Eric Joyner
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #10
Tracks: It's not often that an album leads off with the weakest track, but that's the case here. As a result, I usually skip Erase Me and start with the second track. But one bad track of ten isn't a bad batting average at all. My favorite track is Draw A Crowd, no contest. Other highlights are Michael Praytor Five Years Later, and the final trio of tracks: Hold That Thought, Away When You Were Here, and Thank You For Breaking My Heart. The last song's most obvious influences aren't Billy Joel or Todd Rundgren, but all the European composers from the Romantic Era whose sonatas and etudes Folds must have played thousands of times in piano lessons as a youth.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Once purchased, this CD (on repeat) kept me company on a five hour drive to San Antonio in October 2012. I'll confess to listening to Draw A Crowd more than the other tracks.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Lonely Avenue (2010)
Naked Baby Photos (1998)
Ben Folds Five (1995)