There is something about a good Ben Folds Five song that can always ruin my day. Maybe it’s his piano, the jazzy drumming or the fuzzy bass, but in reality I know that it is a combination of all of those things topped off by some witty lyrics that can evoke childhood memories or bring you to pause for a moment. Every time I decide to listen to an album by BF5 I know what will happen: I’ll go from being chipper and happy to depressed and introverted within a few tracks. I love it. After a 13-year break bassist Robert Sledge, drummer Darren Jessee and pianist Ben Folds are back with a new album that will bring you back to 1995.
During the last decade Folds has released several solo albums and is also a judge on that other singing show where they try to pick out groups instead of individuals. No matter what medium he picks, Folds still has that deadpan humor, charm and wit that carries to all of his songs. One of my favorite lines off this record is “I only wanted to be Stevie Wonder but I got to settle for this vanilla thunder” or “do me like a bro and taze me”. Folds might be one of most honest voices in popular music and he’s also hilarious when it counts.
This new one picks up back in the late 90’s and the group is grooving like they didn’t take a break at all. It took me a while to figure the difference between the solo and BF5; solo will always have more accompanying musicians and the songs are more personalized, whereas BF5 will be universal songwriting, basic structures and a much more immature behavior will ensue.
The tracks here could sit next to Whatever and Ever, Amen or the self-titled album, without a doubt, and if you’d like proof, try: “Draw a Crowd”, “Away When You Were Here”, “Erase Me”, “Sky High” and the title track. This record is kind of a downer at times, yet it has that familiar swing the solo albums don’t possess. I was looking forward to this album, I got what I wanted from it, and if you missed Ben Folds Five then you’ll feel right at home within these 10 tracks, Avid Reader.