Ben Folds is certainly one of my all-time favourites, but the nagging suspicion upon the release of each of his three ep's in the recent past is that he would never quite manage to once again reach the heights he did with Ben Folds Five, nor indeed the heights to which his first solo album Rockin The Suburbs soared. Thankfully it turns out that Ben was saving the good stuff for his second album afterall, although it still doesn't quite match up to some of his superb earlier output.
The one particualr problem I have with this album is at times it seems a tad too pedestrian, and also the fact that if the album well and truly starts off with a bang, it somewhat meanders out towards the end.
"Bastard" is a superb opener, showcasing Folds wry obsertvations to their fullest effect and is perhaps the most "BFF" style tune on the collection and . "Landed" is anything but grounded, as it's a soaring tune which would have, in a fair world, supplied a huge international hit. Songs that in prinicple could be feared to be overwriught (such as "Gracie" - an ode to his young daughter and "Late" - in memory of the late Elliot Smith) just sneak in at the right side of tenderness to avoid a cliched fate.
Folds has certainly still got "it" as evidenced on this fine collection, but for me he doesn't quite reach the heights I associated with his previous work. Perhaps I lament the passing of Ben Folds Five too much to be totally unbiased, or perhaps it's my fault for watching Ben move on, without wanting to leave behind my own past. Ben's still on form, but now he's playing a different game.
Icon's View - 4 out of 5