Friday, December 29, 2006

Ben Folds - supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp

Amongst other things, I got the new (ish) Ben Folds CD for Christmas. I like Ben Folds, his albums are generally full of well written and performed, piano-based, intelligent pop tunes. And this one is no exception, for the most part it is filled with entertaining and musically interesting piano-pop tunes.

The album is a compilation of tracks taken mostly from four EPs which were released exclusively on iTunes over the past couple of years, mostly original songs, but there are a few covers on there. It also features a song from the 'Over the Hedge' film soundtrack. Oddly enough, the fact that it is a compilation doesn't really come across to the listener and the album mostly sounds like a collection of songs which were meant to go together. Mostly.

In the middle of all this intelligent, entertaining pop is a cover version of Dr Dre's song 'B****** ain't S***'. Indeed. That's 'female dogs aren't excrement', incase you didn't know (the title is possibly the cleanest lyric in the song!). I can see why Ben Folds recorded this song. The very idea of a well educated, clean cut, middle class, white boy singing foul, dirty, misogynistic, street lyrics is quite funny and the execution of that ironic joke is very well done - clean and nice tinkly piano accompanyment to perfectly articulated lyrics. But having listened to the album a few times now, I'm highly likely to skip track 6 on future listens - sure, the joke is funny, but the lyrics are highly offensive and not the sort of thing I actually want to have running through my head.

The rest of the album is not without 'parental advisory' lyrics either. But these are generally used sparingly or at appropriate points in songs to provoke the listener or emphasise a point. Take track 2, 'All you can eat', for example. Here the 'F word' (in the context of 'they don't give a...') is used a lot to describe the attitute of a subset of the American population at whom the song is aimed. And you kind of feel that the language is appropriate to the sentiments in the song.

Now that I am a parent of young kids, I realise that 'parental advisory' warnings are now there to remind me not to listen to certain CDs when I'm in the car with my family...

As for the rest of the album, the covers of The Cure's 'In beween days' and The Divine Comedy's 'Songs of Love' are excellent, the cover of The Darkness's 'Get your hands off my woman' is OK, if a little pointless (once again with properly articulated expletives, although the joke isn't the same as The Darkness are also well educated, middle-class, white boys). The original songs all stand up well to comparison with Ben Folds's back catalogue, which is all the recommendation you should need, really.



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