The Bitch Went Nuts

This review was originally posted on Nerd Lives.

[rating:7/10]

Ben Folds’ newest release, Way to Normal is so named due to the band’s travels through Normal, Illinois on a tour date (this can be deduced by listening to the ridiculously pun-ny track entitled “Effington”). Contrary to the effing name, Way to Normal is any-effing-thing but. Playing by their own effing rules, Ben and company continue on their trail of piano pop that is all their effing own.

Ben Folds is at his best when he tells relatable, socially conscious stories or tales of bitter ends to his relationships of the past (he’s on his fourth wife). His social conscience paints him as the Billy Joel of my generation, a guy who writes about the pains of our generation and generations past. Unfortunately, Way to Normal doesn’t feature nearly as much of these portraits as some of Ben’s previous endeavors.

Whereas the previous Ben Folds release Songs for Silverman focused on that pre-Stormfront Billy Joel vibe with a 70’s Jackson Browne flavor, the new album is a focus on the upbeat songwriting that Ben is most known for with a good focus on the bitterness that all Ben Folds fans have come to know and love. This is likely due his most recent divorce (April 2007’s divorce with then wife, Frally Hynes). The track “Bitch Went Nuts” is the most notable and catchy song of this variety and is very reminiscent of the successful Ben Folds Five single “Song for the Dumped”.

There are a few other standout tracks. The opener, “Hiroshima (B-B-B-Benny Hits His Head)”, is a sing-a-long song that tells the story of Ben falling off a stage and bleeding on his piano at a show in Japan. “Free Coffee” is a quirky pop song about how poor people can’t afford stuff and rich people get it for free. The Regina Spektor duet entitled “You Don’t Know Me” is another example of the type of bitterness only a multiple time divorcee could exude. And, “The Frown Song” makes light of how it’s not cool to be happy.

Overall, a solid outing for a Ben Folds fan, albeit not the best place to start for a novice in Ben’s world. So, if you, like me, are a big Ben Folds fan, this is a must buy. If you aren’t a fan, do yourself a favor and pick up Rockin’ the Suburbs and the Ben Folds Five release Whatever and Ever Amen. You won’t be sorry.

~ by thepaintedman on May 25, 2009.

One Response to “The Bitch Went Nuts”

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