Sad but true…Posted: October 6, 2008
And sadly, it is not very good.
This is difficult for me to say – being that I am a very huge fan of Ben Folds. I even liked the overly morose Songs For Silverman.
Let’s break this down:
Things do not start off well. The first two tracks are just bad. The first song, Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head) is an incoherently awful live ditty. The “ooh ooh oh oh” (or whatever) refrain is just plain grating. The piano heavy Dr. Yang is in a similar vein, an almost unlistenable distortion heavy piece of shit.
Things get better with the third and forth track. The Frown Song is the first listenable track, though it covers very little new ground for Folds, being that its thematically, lyrically, and musically similar to Sunny 16’s All You Can Eat. The fourth track, You Don’t Know Me, is one of the best on the album and probably one of the few (only?) standouts of the whole thing.
The next couple of tracks – Before Cologne & Cologne – are forgettable standard stuff from Folds. Very Songs for Silvermanish.
With the next track, Errant Dog, we are back to a level of unlistenableness that is deeply surprising coming from Ben Folds, who I consider to be one of the most listenable guys around. While not as bad as what opened this album Errant Dog is still pretty shitty. Free Coffee – track number 8 – is lyrically interesting but uselessly experimental.
We are back in safer territory with Bitch is Nuts. Anyone who liked Song for the Dumped is sure to enjoy this song; which is the only real stand out besides You Don’t Know Me. It is interesting that the best songs on this album are anti-women or – at best – deeply distrustful of the women. Is Folds relatively recent divorce coloring his perceptions? The next track is thematically similar but decidedly less listenable.
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with Effington. It is pretty listenable and catchy but utterly strange and vaguely incomprehensible. Thematically it is similar to much of the Songs for Siliverman material but sounds much more like something off Rock in the Suburbs. It makes for a strange mix, but one that is not easy to classify as good or bad.
Kylie From Connecticut is Folds latest contribution to his career spanning genre of “songs about various women”. It is a solid song but more than a bit boring and predictable.
As for overarching themes there are a couple – besides Folds anger at women. Namely, the price of fame or money. These themes are barely really expored and whatever insights Folds is offering are mostly banal (rich people are dicks and the more famous you are the more likely people are to help you out – thanks for the deep thoughts Ben).
Summing up Way to Normal, I can not say that it wasn’t a disappointment. A good portion of the album is almost unlistenable, the rest is mostly bland. Considering Songs for Silverman was released in 2005, I was expecting more. Or at least something interesting.