Thursday, February 05, 2009
BEN FOLDS FIVE
THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY OF REINHOLD MESSNER
Commercial indifference buried this talented trio in the backyard, with an adventurous set of tunes left as their last official release. Proving again that the masses don't pay attention, Folds admitted that he took a bath on this financially and moved on to a solo career.
Ten years after the fact, most everything here stands up, brimming with melody (remember that?) and the type of risk taking that an increasingly narrow minded music industry has driven to a friendlier medium. You are here.
Avoiding the traps that makes most music so boring of late, this is loose limbed, energetic and intelligent stuff. "Narcolepsy" builds from a lone piano in the intro to incorporate Darren Jesse's splashy drum flourishes (reminiscent of Keith Moon), augmented by sweeping strings. Kicking in the door with an epic and witty statement, the pace then shifts down into 70's AM radio territory with "Don't Change Your Plans".
Virtuoso keyboards married to exceptional songs.
Those familiar with their previous two albums will find that arrangements have grown to incorporate strings and brass, though it doesn't detract from the personality of the players. All three sing and contribute distinctive instrumental passages, with the overdriven bass of Robert Sledge acting as lead guitar. Dry humor, an essential ingredient of some of their work, is muted here in favor of a more serious tone. On the disc's one disposable track ("Your Redneck Past") there is a sense of silliness which seems too far out of context to merit its inclusion here.
Everything else works quite well. "Army" is the cornerstone track, mixing wry slackerisms with a complimentary horn section that provides an adrenaline rush , pushing the song to the finish line with excitement.
This is a criminally overlooked album. Reuniting briefly to play "Reinhold Messner" in it's entirety last fall, everyone looked like they were having a hell of a lot of fun.