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Rock - Released September 24, 2010 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Sélection Les Inrocks
The formula for Lonely Avenue was a simple one: author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) writes the lyrics and Ben Folds composes and performs the music. It’s a novel idea (seriously, the deluxe edition comes housed in a hardbound, 152-page book that features four of Hornby’s short stories and photographs by Guggenheim Fellow Joel Meyerowitz) that works more often than it doesn’t. For the most part, the majority of the songs on Lonely Avenue could have appeared on anything Folds has put out since going solo in 2001. In fact, Hornby’s prose and penchant for cuss words and misunderstood protagonists is nearly indistinguishable from Folds’, who has made a career out of balancing the two since busting out of Chapel Hill in 1995. Both artists are gifted social commentators with a love for snarky, collegiate cynicism that hides a huge sentimental streak. Not surprisingly, it’s the latter predilection that provides Lonely Avenue with its most memorable moments. Folds’ late career turn as a top-notch balladeer has unearthed some real gems, and the lush, lovingly orchestrated “Picture Window” and “Belinda,” the latter of which follows a former one-hit-wonder who has to deliver his signature hit night after night, despite the fact that he ditched “Belinda” for somebody younger with “big breasts, a nice smile and no kids,” are no exception. Other highlights include the loose and likeable “Doc Pomus,” the missed connections rocker “From Above,” and the erratic, Oingo Boingo-meets-AC/DC oddity “Saskia Hamilton,” but misfires like the overblown “Levi Johnston’s Blues” and the weirdly defensive, literary white-boy funk opener “A Working Day” are as uncomfortable and awkward to listen to as they are to read through. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released September 11, 2001 | Epic

Superficially, there's not much separating Ben Folds' first official solo album, Rockin' the Suburbs, from his records with Ben Folds Five. It's hard to note any difference, really, since he still works from the same vantage point, borrowing equally from new wave, '90s irony, and a love of classic pop. Still, there is a difference, even if it's hard to pinpoint -- perhaps it's an increased focus, perhaps it was a hot streak from Folds, or perhaps the Five really were more of a group than they seemed and he's benefited by working according to his own patterns. Regardless, Rockin' the Suburbs is as good a record as any he's made, possibly his best. It's still possible to hear his influences -- Joe Jackson still stands out, as do elements of Billy Joel and Todd Rundgren -- but there's no shame there, and he's accepted it as part of his musical personality so much that it sounds like him, even when it sounds familiar. Better still, he's tempered his tendency to be a collegiate wiseass -- it pokes through on the title track, but that's the rare time that it's brought to the forefront -- which helps his songs shine brighter. And while there are no surprises here to anybody familiar with his work, it's a remarkably consistent record, filled with great mid-tempo pop tunes and nicely sentimental ballads. It's simply a good, solid record that captures Ben Folds at his most engaging, and that's more than enough. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 22, 2017 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released April 11, 2005 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released October 30, 2006 | Epic

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When Ben Folds cleans out his refrigerator, the leftovers that come spilling out of the rotten lettuce encrusted crisper may taste a bit better than most, but they're still leftovers. Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP collects the best moments from 2003's Speed Graphic and Sunny 16, 2004's Bens ( Ben Lee, Ben Kweller and Folds) and Super D, and 2005's Landed. For the most part, these EPs contained fairly vintage funny/whimsical/bitter/poignant/foul-mouthed for the sake of irony-Ben Folds with some typically eclectic covers thrown in for good measure. From the pure Good Old Boys-era Randy Newman-esque "All You Can Eat" to the sticky-sweet '70s balladry of "Learn to Live with What You Are," Folds can either infuriate or charm the pants off of you, depending on which camp you're in, but the force-fed irony of Snoop Dogg's "Bitches Ain't Shit" and the Darkness' "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" keep better attempts at the tribute song, like the Cure's "In Between Days" and the Divine Comedy's excellent "Songs of Love" from looking good enough to eat. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 30, 2008 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released September 30, 2008 | Epic

Ben Folds' seventh studio recording begins appropriately with an Elton John spoof. After a string of introspective albums, the old-school (as in Ben Folds Five era) "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)," with its bombastic strings, "Benny and the Jets"-inspired piano motif and not-so-subtle refrain of "They're watching me, watching me fall" marks a return to the snarky, sarcastic days of old when Folds' signature blend of nerdy bravado and apathetic melodiousness wrested dominance of the proverbial cheap, college dorm stereo from They Might Be Giants. Like all of Folds' records, Way to Normal is full of melodic hooks and witty, semi-obvious barbs. Folds rarely works in metaphor, so when he sings, "The bitch went nuts/she stabbed my basketball and the speakers to my stereo," that's really all that happened. Surprisingly, it's the quieter moments on Way to Normal like "Cologne," "Kylie from Connecticut," and to a lesser extent "You Don't Know Me" (the latter, a duet with Regina Spektor) that elicit the biggest thrills, but they're few and far between. Folds has always found a way to balance all of the privileged, rich-kid prickishness with moments of surprising profundity, but this time around the profanity and outrage feel more forced than usual -- the aforementioned "Bitch Went Nuts" feels somehow more sophomoric coming from the mouth of a 42-year-old producer, composer, and father. Way to Normal may win a few fans back who balked at the newfound sincerity that peppered his last two or three records, but a little more nuance and a lot less displaced teen angst would have made it palatable for everybody. [Folds reissued Way to Normal in 2009 as a two-disc set called Stems and Seeds. Disc one featured the remixed, remastered, re-sequenced album in its' entirety, though without the excessive, radio-ready compression that accompanies most major label releases, while disc two featured files from the sessions that listeners could upload to "Garageband" and remix themselves.] © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released October 8, 2002 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop - Released September 11, 2001 | Epic

Superficially, there's not much separating Ben Folds' first official solo album, Rockin' the Suburbs, from his records with Ben Folds Five. It's hard to note any difference, really, since he still works from the same vantage point, borrowing equally from new wave, '90s irony, and a love of classic pop. Still, there is a difference, even if it's hard to pinpoint -- perhaps it's an increased focus, perhaps it was a hot streak from Folds, or perhaps the Five really were more of a group than they seemed and he's benefited by working according to his own patterns. Regardless, Rockin' the Suburbs is as good a record as any he's made, possibly his best. It's still possible to hear his influences -- Joe Jackson still stands out, as do elements of Billy Joel and Todd Rundgren -- but there's no shame there, and he's accepted it as part of his musical personality so much that it sounds like him, even when it sounds familiar. Better still, he's tempered his tendency to be a collegiate wiseass -- it pokes through on the title track, but that's the rare time that it's brought to the forefront -- which helps his songs shine brighter. And while there are no surprises here to anybody familiar with his work, it's a remarkably consistent record, filled with great mid-tempo pop tunes and nicely sentimental ballads. It's simply a good, solid record that captures Ben Folds at his most engaging, and that's more than enough. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released December 23, 2011 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released October 7, 2011 | Epic - Legacy

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Film Soundtracks - Released May 16, 2006 | Epic - Sony Music Soundtrax

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 23, 2011 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released September 30, 2008 | Epic

Ben Folds' seventh studio recording begins appropriately with an Elton John spoof. After a string of introspective albums, the old-school (as in Ben Folds Five era) "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)," with its bombastic strings, "Benny and the Jets"-inspired piano motif and not-so-subtle refrain of "They're watching me, watching me fall" marks a return to the snarky, sarcastic days of old when Folds' signature blend of nerdy bravado and apathetic melodiousness wrested dominance of the proverbial cheap, college dorm stereo from They Might Be Giants. Like all of Folds' records, Way to Normal is full of melodic hooks and witty, semi-obvious barbs. Folds rarely works in metaphor, so when he sings, "The bitch went nuts/she stabbed my basketball and the speakers to my stereo," that's really all that happened. Surprisingly, it's the quieter moments on Way to Normal like "Cologne," "Kylie from Connecticut," and to a lesser extent "You Don't Know Me" (the latter, a duet with Regina Spektor) that elicit the biggest thrills, but they're few and far between. Folds has always found a way to balance all of the privileged, rich-kid prickishness with moments of surprising profundity, but this time around the profanity and outrage feel more forced than usual -- the aforementioned "Bitch Went Nuts" feels somehow more sophomoric coming from the mouth of a 42-year-old producer, composer, and father. Way to Normal may win a few fans back who balked at the newfound sincerity that peppered his last two or three records, but a little more nuance and a lot less displaced teen angst would have made it palatable for everybody. [Folds reissued Way to Normal in 2009 as a two-disc set called Stems and Seeds. Disc one featured the remixed, remastered, re-sequenced album in its' entirety, though without the excessive, radio-ready compression that accompanies most major label releases, while disc two featured files from the sessions that listeners could upload to "Garageband" and remix themselves.] © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 11, 2015 | New West Records

Ben Folds is no stranger to collaboration. After his most recent solo album, 2008's Way to Normal, he released 2010's Lonely Avenue, which set English novelist Nick Hornby's lyrics to Folds' music; a quickly generated fundraising record supporting musical opportunities for kids titled Nighty-Night, co-credited to Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer, writer Neil Gaiman, and OK Go's Damian Kulash; and his band Ben Folds Five's 2012 reunion LP, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, and pursuant live release; not to mention producing stints (such as Sara Bareilles' 2012 EP Once Upon Another Time) and other TV, theater, and music projects. Also no stranger to the classical realm, Folds was a percussion performance major during his time at university, has performed his piano rock songs with various orchestras, and premiered his first piano concerto with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in 2014. So There finds the musician partnering with the experimental Brooklyn chamber ensemble yMusic on eight new tunes referred to as "8 chamber rock songs" on the record's packaging. It also includes a studio recording of his aforementioned three-movement "Concerto for Piano & Orchestra" with the Nashville Symphony. It turns out that yMusic's participation augments song textures without replacing anything uniquely Folds. His tremendously agile, rhythmic piano playing, also-agile melodies, and occasionally double-tracked, distinctive vocals are all still front and center. The album opens strongly with two memorable and thoughtful pop songs, "Capable of Anything," whose title refers to anything good and anything bad, and the seemingly tender "Not a Fan." The former is driven by (after melody) piano and drums, with deft string and woodwind embellishments; the latter is a piano-and-strings ballad that transforms into a harsh moment of clarity for the lyrics' protagonist. Another album highlight, "Phone in a Pool," addresses communication breakdowns and the lure of disconnecting ("When you've lived to be two hundred/Feel free to proffer your advice/Until that time here's my auto-reply"). The nerdiest and goofiest piece is easily "F10-D-A," an ensemble-punctuated music theory lesson in double-entendre. The piano concerto is approachable and dramatic, a Gershwin-esque, pop-influenced type of classical work. Fans of his songwriting may be surprised at how much it has Ben's voice without, well, Ben's voice. The album will very likely be embraced by solo Folds aficionados, though it may not appeal to those who strongly favor the brasher Five. Outside of a career context, and with credit to Folds' co-arrangers and co-producers, C.J. Camerieri and Rob Moose of yMusic, So There is both ambitious and down-to-earth, impeccably constructed, and utterly accessible. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released April 28, 2009 | Epic

Despite Ben Folds' protests to the contrary, University A Cappella! is a total novelty, its 16 songs containing nary an instrument and many a harmonized voice. Some may view the move as a gimmick, but there's something truly...well, novel about Folds' work with these young ensembles, all of whom re-create the songwriter's acerbic pop/rock with voices alone. While the world of collegiate a cappella isn't exactly a macrocosm of the music business, it does mirror the industry's recording trends, with more and more ensembles adopting the same digitally tuned, Pro Tools-weaned approach that achieves perfection at the expense of the human element. Folds serves as producer on the bulk of these songs, however, and he captures the group's renditions with virtually no studio wizardry, allowing some errors to remain in the final mix for realistic effect. Those familiar with the top dogs of college a cappella may recognize some names here, particularly the perennially solid Loreleis from UNC, but University A Cappella! gives ample room to ensembles that rarely occupy the spotlight. There's not a whiff of the Yale Whiffenpoofs nor a toot from Tufts' Beelzebubs; instead, listeners are treated to a solid version of "Fair" by Eau Claire's six-person Fifth Element, a winsome "Evaporated" by a high-school choir from Massachusetts, and a sadly middling "Brick" (whose intro sounds more like a church hymn than a '90s ballad) by the Ohio University Leading Tones. The performances are hit-or-miss -- and many of them are trumped by Folds' own pair of songs -- but the originality remains fairly consistent, yielding an album that should delight a cappella enthusiasts and, at the very least, interest the average Folds fan. © Andrew Leahey /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released June 26, 2020 | Ben Folds Productions

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Pop/Rock - Released December 23, 2011 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released December 23, 2011 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released May 3, 2005 | Epic - Legacy