Doing this ‘reviewing’ lark can be a bit of an eye-opener, or rather, an ear-opener. Of course I’d heard of BEN FOLDS before, but only occasionally and even then his name was always preceded with the word ‘The’ and followed by the number ‘Five.’
I have been guilty of dismissing his work without really listening, considering it with the same disdain as I’d normally reserve for the likes of Billy Joel and others. I had him pegged as prime ‘Later With Jools Holland’ fodder – a TV programme I am likely to watch only if someone had spilt a tube of superglue to my seat and hidden the TV remote!
Actually, the ‘Jools Holland’ reference probably still holds, but I’m thinking now that I was rather too quick with my earlier contemptuous condemnation. OK – so this album won’t supplant those in my collection by the likes of Leftover Crack and Five Knuckle etc., but it’s definitely a decent listen. A proper listen.
The eighteen tracks on this album represent the ‘most comprehensive and definitive BEN FOLDS collection ever assembled.’ Not that I recognised many – two in fact – but it’s gonna make some people very happy.
In brief, the songs here swing between the sensitive to the quirky and fun. They all tell a story in the good, old-fashioned sense and many would be considered ideal movie soundtrack material. In fact, my favourite track ‘The Luckiest’ was initially written but subsequently not used, for that very purpose. This is a lovely track – nothing like I would normally listen to, but it lends itself equally to situations of love and loss, and with our family having recently suffered the latter, it immediately struck a chord.
The rocking ‘Rockin’ The Suburbs’ is one that I recognise, as is the buoyant and bouncy ‘Underground’ which is performed as The Ben Folds Five, and I’m sure was released as a single way back when.
‘Still Fighting It’ was written for Ben’s son Louis on the occasion of his birth and ‘Gracie’ was written to fulfil a promise to his son’s twin sister that she too would have a song written for her. Others have quirky titles, like ‘There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You,’ and ‘One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces.’ How could you not be interested in listening?
Bottom line – would I have bought this album? Probably not. But now that I have it, will I listen to it again? Most definitely!
(Released through Epic Records on 31st October 2011)
(8.5 / 10)