Self-Titled Album reviews.
Release Date: 08.05.95
Record label: passenger/caroline
Hand Me My Nosering
by: bill aicher
"Punk rock for sissies" is the way Ben Folds describes their music. I guess you could say that. They have all the makings of a rock band, except for one major ingredient - a guitar. The replacement of the guitar with piano is what makes Ben Folds Five unique. Their sound is one-of-a-kind. It also doesn't hurt much that Ben Folds is one of the best pop piano players I have ever heard. He is influenced from many different musical genres, from rock, to ragtime, to classical, and everything in between. Since he is also the lead singer/songwriter, these influences are apparent in the lyrics as well. (Ben Folds Five only has three members - Ben Folds just thought it sounded better than Ben Folds Three).
BFF have all the makings of a great band. I bought their CD based upon a recommendation, who the recommendation was from? I don't even know. Luckily I did though, or else I would have missed out on what I consider one of the greatest bands to come around in a long time. Ben sings about life. Not the woes of life, as is found in a lot of the angst-ridden alternative or rock music. Instead he writes about HIS life. What it is like just to be a person, nothing about how the music industry is destroying his personal life. More about what it is like to be one of the normal people. My personal favorite lyrical line of all time is on this cd "I was never cool in school, I'm sure you don't remember me" starts off the track "Underground". The song is basically a taunt at the people who think they will be cool if they are different. Funny stuff. Which is another reason BFF is such a great group.
They attack their subjects in a playful manner. The band makes fun of each other in some tracks, and they are having fun. You know they are having fun. Ben's verse-chorus style is classic musical style, but somehow they pull it off without sounding like a ripoff. I think it is because they are just a great band. All of their CDs (this is their first, they have since released Whatever and Ever Amen - where "Brick" is from, Naked Baby Photos, and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner) have this vibrance in the music, although this is still my favorite because of the raw joy in the music. Naked Baby Photos exhibits this same feeling, but it is a lot of live tracks, and I recommend getting their studio work first and then experiencing the live BFF.
Certain bands have a chemistry you can feel in their music. I am not talking the chemistry we find in Smashing Pumpkins where they all approach the music in a serious manner, but where the band is out to have fun. A band that is enjoying itself always produces some of the greatest music ever. The Beatles did it back in the 60s. Ben Folds Five are one of the bands doing it in the 90s. Sledge is great on bass, Jesse is an excellent drummer, Folds is a great lyricist and supurb pianist, and the backup vocals are enough to make me laugh. The lyrics are insighful, the band is talented, and the vibe is flowing.