Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever Amen


Oh, why don't I play this more often?  A Forgotten Gem for me, that's for sure.  I've been a fan of shiny piano-based pop since my youth - aided by my forced piano education and my desire to play something, ANYthing other than the dull and boring classical pieces I was forced to practice day in and day out.  So my teenage years were informed by my love of 10CC, Billy Joel and Elton John.  Mock me not.  (YourZ sez: oh, come on, don't spoil my fun)

Ben Folds Five certainly deliver when it comes to that shiny-pop sound, even though many of the tunes on this album reflect a darker lyricism, including Song For The Dumped.  It's the album that brought the band their greatest recognition before they split, and is loaded with great tunes that'll put a positive feeling in your heart while delivering snide and depressing messages.

I have a soft spot for Mr Folds, for taking a young Adelaide girl as his bride, albeit briefly, and making his home Down Under for a while.  He's also fond of the Antipodes and tours here regularly, so maybe I'll take the opportunity to see him play next time he visits.  It's sure to be a fun gig.


Hmm, reading Mine's review above and listening back to Whatever And Ever Amen, I also asked myself why I haven't listened to this more often.  Then it occurred me why.  As a guitarist, spending too much time listening to a pop music album that doesn't have guitars is kind of like an Israeli spending time in Palestine - it just feels wrong (I know - I need to get over myself sometimes, don't I?) (Mine says: ... reading my mind again dammit)

This is not to say this isn't a great album 'cause it is.  Ben Folds and co are fabulously talented and the songs are clever on a number of levels.  I really do like it and understand why Mine has called it a Forgotten Gem.  The opener, One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces, sounds like everything Jay Kay (from Jamiroquai for those not in the know) has ever done except better and funnier.

Then there's the beautiful, sad and poignant Brick, which became a cross over hit for the band and propelled them into the mainstream, where I get the feeling a lot of people probably felt overwhelmed by the cleverness of Fold's lyrics and relegated the band to almost gimmick status, more's the pity.

But I think it's the song Kate, a piece of pure pop genius with soaring harmonies, I enjoy most.  I used to share a house with a girl of the same name and more than a few boys fell head over heels for her while she lived there.  The lyrics are almost a perfect homage to the girl I knew, although I was as never struck by her as my friends were (they never lived with her - let's leave it at that).

I'm glad the pointy stick landed on Whatever And Ever Amen because this is indeed one album (in fact the only Ben Folds in our collection) I am glad to be reminded we have.


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