3 January 2013

Ben Folds Five - The Sound of The Life of The Mind

Is it better to go back to where you  found your original fame?  This record is the fourth album by the piano pop trio Ben Folds Five, and their first in 13 years. Since their last album the band members have forged their own careers with various degrees of success.  But in 2011 when Mr Folds was doing a retrospective of his discography he arranged for the band to get back together to do a few tracks for the compilation.  That reunion let to this record which was partly funded by the increasingly popular Pledge Music campaign site.

Now it is hard to listen to this record and not ignore what has gone on previously gone before as they were incredibly clever, witty, imaginative albums.  So this record has a lot of expectation on it's little shoulders.  Maybe that is why the robot is looking so deep in contemplation.  Well musically it is not 100 miles (hell not even 10 feet) away from what they originally made them so popular. Some faster songs, some heart felt ballads - the best songs for me were "Draw A Crowd", "On Being Frank", "Sky High" and "The Sound of The Life of The Mind".  The last two tracks in that list are the only tracks on the album which are not written by Mr Folds himself.

Now we come to the crux of the album, the album is mostly written by Mr Folds which worked for all the other albums.  But after the band have been away and came back together would it have hurt for the other two - especially Darren Jessee - to have written a bit more?  The problem with the album is that it sounds too familiar, too much of the same whilst not having the same sort of passion and angry as the originals.  Also, the track order makes the ending of the album seem a little weak which is very strange for this group.  It seems like it was done in such a rush that they did not get the chance to really look at it and see what the album was about.  But it is easy to call shots from the outside and maybe this is what they wanted to release, which is their right - I just sort of wish that it was a bit more, which is setting myself up for a fall when listening to any album.

Now I have listened to this a few times now, and it has grown on me which is a very good sign that this is a slow burner.  But the initial impression that it could have been more is hard to shake.  I hope that they do release further albums and keep on going for a bit.  There is a place in the world for them and I will still be there myself to listen intently.  However, this album whilst being ok is not what was expected in some ways - probably my own fault for having big hopes. However, it is a good place to actually start if you have not heard this band.  It is not a bad album, it is good - and from here, the only way is up.

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase it from here

You can listen to this on Spotify here

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