14 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ben Folds has made a career out of being peeved. As pop/rock’s reigning Bard of the ‘Burbs, he has captured the aggravations of the ordinary guy better than just about anyone. After toning down his satiric side for a few albums, he gets nice and cranky again on 2008’s Way to Normal. Fold’s signature piano is in top form, nailing down the boogiefied beat on “Dr. Yang,” strutting with abandon on “Errant Dog,” and gliding into elegant balladry on “Kylie from Connecticut.” He nods in the direction of Elton John on “Hiroshima” (a semi-spoof of “Bennie and the Jets”) and invokes the robotic New Wave pop of Gary Numan on “You Don’t Know Me” (a playful duet with Regina Spektor). There are sweet moments, most notably the oddly tender “Cologne,” but Folds fans will especially gravitate towards his more pointed numbers, including the nervous “Free Coffee,” the scathing “Errant Dog,” the ultra-irritated “Bitch Went Nuts,” and the standout “Effington,” a portrait of a central Illinois town at once snide and affectionate. Way to Normal returns Folds to familiar turf, which is not a bad thing. His brand of normalcy remains uniquely his own.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ben Folds has made a career out of being peeved. As pop/rock’s reigning Bard of the ‘Burbs, he has captured the aggravations of the ordinary guy better than just about anyone. After toning down his satiric side for a few albums, he gets nice and cranky again on 2008’s Way to Normal. Fold’s signature piano is in top form, nailing down the boogiefied beat on “Dr. Yang,” strutting with abandon on “Errant Dog,” and gliding into elegant balladry on “Kylie from Connecticut.” He nods in the direction of Elton John on “Hiroshima” (a semi-spoof of “Bennie and the Jets”) and invokes the robotic New Wave pop of Gary Numan on “You Don’t Know Me” (a playful duet with Regina Spektor). There are sweet moments, most notably the oddly tender “Cologne,” but Folds fans will especially gravitate towards his more pointed numbers, including the nervous “Free Coffee,” the scathing “Errant Dog,” the ultra-irritated “Bitch Went Nuts,” and the standout “Effington,” a portrait of a central Illinois town at once snide and affectionate. Way to Normal returns Folds to familiar turf, which is not a bad thing. His brand of normalcy remains uniquely his own.

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