Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ben Folds Five "The Sound of the Life of the Mind" Review

You know that feeling when your favorite band announces a new album, their first after a bajillion years, and you hope, you anticipate, you pray that this new album will be the Best Thing Ever? You can almost taste it. You falsely think that through the album you will relive the hey-day of your favorite band, and you mutter a novena and sacrifice a chicken so the album might be more awesome than awesome. Then you hear it, and it's not any good at all, and your disappointment pierces all your hope and anticipation, sends it plummeting towards the earth, sets it on fire, and jumps up and down on it till it's broken and dead. That is not the new Ben Folds Five album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind. This album is the bomb. It's the bee's knees. It's great, more awesome than awesome, the Best Thing Ever.

Ever since I heard the first track that they released a week before the album, "Erase Me," I fearfully lit that candle of hope. That track was something special, and I knew it right away. It had a dozen different moods in one song. It had complexity and musical intelligence. Yet it was delivered with the simple joy of Pop and the intensity of Punk Rock.

A friend who downloaded a leak of the album had been tweeting all week that The Sound was a good album. I listened to the rest of the album with trepidation, afraid that like Lana Del Rey's Born to Die, The Sound would quickly take a trip south and keep going. It didn't happen. I loved it from beginning to end.

Now I can say that yes, Ben Folds Five is back. And in my opinion, this is their best album to date.

Yes, they're back. And they're saying "Screw you!" to the downer, all-attitude, no-substance Indie Rock that's so prevalent nowadays. They don't mean to, or maybe they do. They're just making Ben Folds Five music.

This is no brilliant but un-singable Fiona Apple Idler Wheel album. These guys are brilliant but they aren't afraid to sing, "If you're feeling small/and you can't draw a crowd/draw dicks on the wall." Or "I only wanted to be Stevie Wonder/But I got to settle for this vanilla thunder." Classic Ben Folds Five.

Alright, Ben Folds Five won't be to everyone's liking. They were – and still are – rock's most unpopular rock stars. But if you don't like them after this album, I don't know what's wrong with you. Stop listening to music.

Here's a bonus video. More awesomeness!

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