It’s been 17 years since Ben Folds Five first album, and 14 since their last, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. The band broke up amicably in 2000 and went on to do other things, but now their back together with a new album, The Sounds of the Life of the Mind.
What made Ben Folds Five fun back in the day was that they really found a way to rock hard for a band based around a piano (Ben Folds), bass (Robert Sledge), and drums (Darren Jessee). Folds played the keys frenetically, Sledge’s bass was full of fuzz, and Jessee laid down some big heavy beats. It was lots of fun, and then “Brick” happened on Whatever and Ever Amen. It was about abortion and not in the same fun vein as much of the other songs by the band, and it becoming their biggest hit seemed to change the bands direction some. Their next album seemed more serious and had less hooks than their previous work, it was still pretty good, just different.
Now 13 years later, Ben Folds Five are back. They’re all in their 40’s now, and while they have all grown up, they don’t seem to be too different than last we heard them. Still, The Sounds of the Life of the Mind does not often rock the way BFF once did. It does on songs like “Draw a Crowd,” and most notably the first single, “Do It Anyway.” This certainly doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some well written songs that rock less. “Thank You for Breaking My Heart” is still an excellent song, but is about as fun as the song title would suggest.
For those of you hoping that The Sounds of the Life of the Mind is going to be similar to Ben Fold’s Five’s first couple albums you will likely be disappointed. The albums best moments still come out of Folds banging of the keys, Sledge’s fuzzy bass, and Jessee’s rockin’ beats, but there just aren’t enough moments of them. BFF can still be good without them, but the less of that the better.
Key Tracks: Draw a Crowd, Do It Anyway, Thank You for Breaking My Heart
Kevin Kozel - Sr. MuzikReviews.com Staff
September 21, 2012