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Way To Normal (vinyl)

3.9 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Vinyl, September 30, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

US 2 x LP180 gram pressing presented in a gatefold jacket and includes a bonus download card. Explicit version of Ben Folds' 2008 album Way to Normal. Ben Folds is best known as a solo artist and as the front-man pianist of Ben Folds Five. He is celebrated for a sound that bridges the worlds of Jazz and Power Rock. Consistently touring, Ben Folds has earned a reputation for his wit, musicality, and energetic live shows. With songs like 'Hiroshima' (which recounts his falling of the stage and hitting his head in Japan), Folds has proven to be a story-teller for the piano-rock generation. Way To Normal is the first full length release since Songs for Silverman, a very honest look at the last few years of Folds' life. Folds collaborated with Dennis Herring (Counting Crows, Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello) and the track 'You Don't Know Me' features a duet with indie songstress, Regina Spektor.
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (September 30, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B001EBEBS6
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,632 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kyle Genther on September 30, 2008
Format: Audio CD
From the head-banging intro of "Hiroshima" (pun intended) to the symphonic sounds of "Cologne" and the electronic, synthetic experimentations of "Free Coffee", this may be Ben Folds most diverse album since The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner and with arguably more standouts.

I had the pleasure of hearing "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)" at Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center when Ben was in town and thought it rocked then and it still rocks now, in a way only Ben Folds can rock. In terms of piano parts, I think this album most closely resembles his last endeavor Songs for Silverman but perhaps with more major chords and less syncopation (but I'll have to see the sheet music when it comes out to be sure). There's also a generally faster tempo to most of the songs which may make it more immediately likeable, but could also wear down its welcome sooner (it's still too early to tell, but a couple songs remind me of Speed Graphic's hyperactive "Dog", including the conspicuous "Errant Dog"). If you're anything like me, upbeat songs are more appealing immediately, but ballads grow on me over time, so my favorite songs from Songs for Silverman now are "Time, "Prison Food" and "You to Thank" (not really a ballad I know).

By all accounts, this is an engaging and impressive album from one of the most impressive musicians around. You can't deny he's got piano chops (maybe the best in the business) and he gets to show off a little (not like "Bastard" or "Philosophy" going way back...), but if you ever hear him in concert you know he's still got it. And though some may feel his lyrics leave something to be desired (my wife included) his songwriting is as fresh and original as ever with standouts "You Don't Know Me", "Effington" and "Cologne" (by the way, if you get the chance to listen to the "Piano Orchestra Version" of "Cologne", do; it's fantastic).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Much like everyone else it seems, we've all been fans of Ben Folds since he was Ben Folds Five. So he clearly has a very devoted following of people like me who will buy anything he puts out on day one.

So I have listened to 'Way to Normal' four times now. After the first time, I thought, "This is really uneven and kind of disappointing". Usually I'm hooked after one listen.

There are some really stupid, childish lyrics on the album - 'Errant Dog' comes to mind right away and the "f'ing a Guru" in 'The Frown Song'. Those lyrics made me cringe and feel really old. And then there's the really lame woman-leaves-man/ man-leaves-woman joke that leads into "B*&ch Went Nuts" with its David Carradine Kung Fu delivery. Maybe today's teenagers might find this stuff funny, but I did not.

Also, there are a few songs with a weird sounding/fuzzy piano/keyboard in the background that sounds very out-of-place on a Ben Folds album (It almost sounds like Dr. Dre could have made those sounds).

Now despite those negatives, there are still a bunch of really good songs on here that make me remember why Ben Folds is one of my favorite artists. He's a great pop-song writer. He's one of the few artists today to really feature the piano (he makes me wish I could play). "Cologne" is such a powerful, personal song and probably the best song on the album. "B&*ch Went Nuts", "Brainwascht" and "Effington" are fun and fast-paced. "Kylie from Connecticut" was classic piano-man. I only wish the entire album lived up to those songs. Overall, a really uneven release...
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Format: Audio CD
Just so you know where I'm coming from there hasn't been anything that Ben Folds has released that I have disliked. For people that have never liked him first off you're crazy but this album won't change your opinion. If you're just a Ben Folds Five fan then the same is also true. However if you were let down by his 2nd solo album Songs For Silverman, because of it's somber mood this is a return for the most part to his light-hearted, fun-loving self.

This album is somewhat of a concept album...I use the term concept album very loosely though. The concept is a satire on spoiled rich people(as the cover indicates). Starting with the opening track Hiroshima where sings about people watching him fall down on stage like it's the end of the world. Dr Yang is send up on kooky doctors (that the rich go to). However, I think the heart of the concept is in the third song The Frown Song which comments on people who are generally unpleasant to everyone around them with the great lyric"Rock on. rock on with your fashionable frown...and spread the love around". The are other songs that play in to the concept but I'll leave it at that. Because as always with Ben Folds this album is really song driven and some of the greatest songs on this album don't serve the concept. Cologne is a beautiful under stated love song done in the poignant quirky way only Ben Folds does. Kylie From Connecticut seems to be The Ascent Of Stan meets Eleanor Rigby a sublime bittersweet ballad. And Of course this album has You Don't Know Me which might end up being Folds's biggest hit since Brick...a very catchy song that will be hard to get out of your head once you hear it.

As others have mentioned there are also "fake" versions of some of these songs and some of those songs are better than the ones on the album (particularly Bitch Went Nutz is better than Bitch Went Nuts) so if you care be on the look out for those songs as Ben has said he will release them as future B-sides.
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