After hiatus, Ben Folds Five strong as before

by Ben Rodgers

After a hiatus of 12 years, the 90’s favorite alternative rock trio, Ben Folds Five, is back with their fourth studio album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.

The album is the first studio release since their 1999 album Unauthorized Biography of Rienhold Messner.

Earlier in the summer, the band reunited to headline a number of summer festivals and also announced that they would be releasing a new album.

Coming into this album one can tell that the group has taken a hiatus and in some ways found themselves musically. The album reflects some of the sound from their earlier career and elements from Folds’ solo career. However you can tell that Folds and the rest of the group are beginning to mature with their sound.

In a lot of Folds music, Ben tends to hold off on his piano solos on a lot of songs. This isn’t the case at all on this album, by completely letting go and showing his talents on the piano.

One fascinating aspect of this album is the lack of extra studio instruments, where most other Ben Folds Five albums have horns, strings and synthesizers.

The first highlighted song of this album is the opening track “Erase Me” which is the opening track. There could not have been a better song to kick off the album with. With both intensity and mellow sounds, Folds show his skills as both a songwriter and composer.

The track “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” carries a common theme in Ben Folds music, being different. The story tells the tale of Sara, who would rather stick around at school and read history and poetry then getting caught up in the life of a teenager.

The song that was first released as a single for this album was “Do It Anyway.” This is the one track on the album that will more then likely get the most notoriety. It has a catchy tune and good message behind it saying, don’t worry about what might happen, do it anyway.

Folds has been could be called many things, a talented piano player, a song-write genius, but most of all Folds is an amazing storyteller. “She broke down and cried at the strip mall acupuncturists, while the world went on outside,” these are opening lyrics to the song “Hold That Thought.”

While he is singing this, you already get the picture of the story going on in your head and see what exactly is going on. The same goes for “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” along with many of the other songs written by Folds.

While Folds does all of the writing and composing for his albums, there are actually two songs that do not include his works. The track “Sky High” was written and composed by the bands bass player Darren Jesse.

“The Sound of the Life of the Mind” was composed by Folds, however the lyrics were written by Nick Hornby, which were unused lyrics in their collaboration Lonely Avenue.

With the absence of Ben Folds Five for so long, it’s awesome to have them back making, music as good if not better, like they did back in the 90’s.