21 July 2013

Ben Folds - Way To Normal

Hi, my name is Eddie and I am a Ben Folds fan.  But it has not always been the case - I first came across Mr Folds when he was in the wonder trio known as Ben Folds Five and they released their second album 'Whatever & Ever, Amen'.  After it was released I didn't hear anything else from him until 2008 when I came upon this album.  Being a little bored and with nothing better to do (didn't fancy going to the pub that day), I decided to purchase this album.  

Sometimes I wonder if I would have ended up listening to it later or if I would have not found out an album which for a few years defined what I was listening to in more ways than one.  It is probably safe to say that this album is one of the most import album of my recent music history; but has it aged well in the five years since it has been released, is it still that important to me.

Way To Normal has so far been Mr Folds most successful solo release in terms of chart positions.  In the USA, it reached #11, in the UK it made #70 and considering there was little to no publicity in the UK, I think that is still a really good chart position.  Musically it is not that far from the tree in terms of Ben Folds musical style.  

However, there is subtle difference in terms of what is on offer here. On this album, Mr Folds seems to be on story teller/Queen Bitch mode.  Starting with the real life "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)" which describes the time when Mr Folds fell on stage and busted open his head, you know you that you are in for a good album.  Lead single "You Don't Know Me" which features the wonder Regina Spektor is Mr Folds usual look on love from the point of view of someone who is not in love (or falls in love too easy) and you get the genius moments on "Effington" and "Brainwascht" which just shows that some Americans know what irony is and can use it to their full advantage.

But it is not all sarcasm and quick quips - there are also some moving stories.  "Cologne" is talking about the aftermath of the end of a relationship (probably one of Mr Folds' marriages) and the equally poignant "Kylie From Connecticut" which talks about a lady who is remembering an affair from years ago and is suspicious of her husband having an affair himself.  Yet all these stories would be for nought if it was not for the music holding them together.  

On this album, Ben Folds had reached a level that he had not attained since his then final outing with the 'Five' on 'The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhoild Messner'.  It is of the same type of quality.  The album is a joy to behold, granted it is not going to gain many fans outside of those with a disposition for piano rock - he is sort of niche in that regard.  Yet it is one of the albums I will point people towards at any given moment.  Still as amazing as the day I bought it, still rocking my world and one of the best albums I have ever purchased.

10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God

You can purchase one of the various formats of this album on Amazon here

You can visit the Ben Folds/Ben Folds Five website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is the offical video for "You Don't Know Me"

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