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25
4.6 out of 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2012
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from Ben Folds 5 reforming, I loved their early stuff, it was young, angry and full of bounce. But they are older now (as am I!) and trying to go back to their roots completely would surely end up with a slightly desperate result.

This album feels like a bridge between the Ben Folds 5 albums and Ben Folds best solo album, Songs for Silverman, with the added influences of Folds jaunts into Accapella showtunesy melodrama (in a good way) and his story telling from the work with Nick Hornby. We have the perfect mix of the upbeat "Erase Me" and "Do It Anyway" to the moving "Away When you Were Here", the wistful "On Being Frank" and the wonderfully childish "Draw A Crowd".

Aside from the first two BF5 albums I have felt that all of Mr Folds work has included a weak song or two that I would often skip, I am quite a few listens in to this album and if there is a weak song I haven't spotted it yet. Part of me wanted a new "Underground" or "Battle of who could care less" but they have been done.

Can't wait to see them live in December!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2012
Well, my hopes were ridiculously high for this album...and having got it back from my local independent record store and played it from start to finish, I'm overjoyed to report that 'The Sound of the Life of the Mind' easily surpasses my greatest hopes for how good it could be. It's a phenomenal piece of work - funny, sad, beautiful - oh, and it Rocks. It Rocks like your Mommy. The best piece of piano-based punk rock for sissies you'll hear this lifetime!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2012
A band that re-unites... That often smells of desperation, of cashing in after less successful times.

Well, Ben Folds certainly did not need to reunite with his two excellent bandmates from Ben Folds Five because he has established a remarkable and highly successful solo career.

So this new BFF album definitely was not made because of monetary reasons (and if it was it never sounds like it). Folds obviously wanted to work again in this format. And the result is one of the most hauntingly beautiful and fun albums of the year. It is filled with perfect melodies and lyrics, arranged with vibrant but never self-important ideas and virtuoso timing. In a better world this album would be a megaseller, dominating the worldwide charts.

Every song brings out a different impression of the band's multi-faceted abilities, from the wickedly sardonic and perfect opener "ERASE ME" to the barn-storming "MICHAEL PRAYTOR - FIVE YEARS LATER", turning inwards with the melancholic mid-tempo "SKY HIGH", changing gears again with the intricately fashioned rhythm of the title track "The Sound of the Life of the Mind", delivering one of the groups BEST BALLADS ever with "ON BEING FRANK", following it with the deliciously silly and rhythmically complex "DRAW A CROWD", diving right into the up-tempo country-punk lead single "DO IT ANYWAY", before going sweet, sad, ironic and melancholic with the closing trifecta "HOLD THAT THOUGHT" (with fantastic voice arrangement), "AWAY WHEN YOU WERE HERE" and "THANK YOU FOR BREAKING MY HEART" - three songs that bring an unexpected emotional power to the closing of this record.

Nobody can craft a melody that stays in your head after hearing it for the first time like Ben Folds. Once again he excels at what he does, and his two exceptionally wonderful bandmates Robert Sledge (bass) und Darren Jessee (drums) have definitely inspired the whole endeavour, lifting Folds to new heights.

A perfect album!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2012
It seems the Amazon reviews for this cracking album do it justice, which I'm glad about. But I thought I'd just add: most of the professional reviews of this record have been utter twaddle. First off: hacks expecting BFF to come back with nothing short of the finest album they've ever made, and mewling because they haven't, are frankly demanding too much. Second, a couple of reviewers commenting along the lines of "this is basically no different to a Ben Folds solo album, with a little more grit", are talking utter tosh. Finally, a handful of suggestions that Folds himself doesn't sound like he's in it to win it. Again, claptrap.

So here are the facts. No, it's not quite as good as "Whatever And Ever, Amen", but then which albums ever are? It's certainly better than "The Unauthorized Biography..." and whatever recent Folds solo offerings I've heard. It contains a slightly weedy closing track ("Thank You For Breaking My Heart"), a pair of mellow growers ("Sky High", "Away When You Were Here"), a pair of charming BFF mid-tempo ballads ("Hold That Thought", "On Being Frank"), four absolute old-school BFF stompers (the title track, "Erase Me", "Do It Anyway", "Draw A Crowd") and, finally, one inspired, original, energetic, eccentric and completely brilliant song ("Michael Praytor, Five Years Later") which is as good as anything BFF have ever created, now or then. The latter five songs will be enough to satisfy any former fan that this reunion is not a cash-in, shadow-of-its-former-glory travesty; "Michael Praytor", with its Steely Dan-on-speed harmonies and crunchy instrumental mayhem, could be enough to win BFF a whole new crop of admirers. Let's hope so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2013
They've outdone themselves in all departments.
The lyrics shine brightest in Do it Anyway and Away When You Were Here. He can still tell stories as shown in On Being Frank which feels like the amazing 'Boxing'.
The songs can be heartbreaking "Thank You for Breaking My Heart" is maybe one of Ben Folds' most beautiful songs.
And yet they can still rock out as shown on Draw a Crowd which consists of probably their best chorus since Song for the Dumped.

The piano playing is at its best on Do It Anyway, Erase Me and Michael Praytor.

It's rare to have a band return after so long and release an album which feels like they were never gone. Yeah they don't sound exactly the same but that's because they're more mature, this is a richer kind of music.
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I have been a massive fan of Ben Folds Five (and Ben Folds' solo work) since they burst onto the scene with their eponymous début in 1995 (still one of my favourite albums of all time) and, not only was I looking forward to their first album since re-forming, I was one of the many hundreds of people who helped fund the making and production of the album via internet pledging. I will be honest, when I first heard this album, I was disappointed. Not bitterly so, but I was expecting something a little more spectacular than I heard during the first play. Thing is, while this isn't a particularly instant album, it is absolutely packed full of slow-burners. There are a couple of extremely catchy tracks, such as the brilliant "Michael Praytor, Five Years Later" and the commercial, yet quirky, "Draw A Crowd", but the majority of the songs have a greater subtlety and require a bit more attention and listening to a few times before they really start to sink in. "Erase Me", for example, is a portion of sardonic genius and "Do It Anyway" features classic Folds piano brilliance. In reality, this is probably the "worst" Ben Folds Five studio album you can buy, but considering the brilliance of the other three, that isn't such a terrible thing - it's certainly head and shoulders above Ben Folds' last couple of albums (Way To Normal and Lonely Avenue). It's great to have the "five" back together and I look forward to hearing their next album greatly.
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on 5 December 2012
Wow. What a return after 13 years! Yes, it's more "Silverman" than "Whatever & Ever Amen" and something of a grower but this is a really tight band at the top of their game who never had the acrimonious break-up and litigation (AFAIK) and so are just reliving their late twenties/early thirties and having damn good fun while they do it. There are a couple of old school 'bang it out' tracks like "Draw A Crowd" and "Erase Me" but there's a bias towards the more mature songwriting and instrumentals exhibited on the Five's last album (Reinhold Messner) and the later solo Folds stuff. I went to see them at Brixton Academy last night and apart from the volume being too low (and I'm 40 so I should be complaining about the opposite!) we saw a fantastic, energetic band who weren't scared to lay the new stuff on us as well as plenty of the old. Ben did remark (hopefully jokingly) that this CD has sold less than the number of people in the venue last night so buy a physical copy and enjoy...
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on 1 February 2013
Like other reviewers I was a bit worried that the magic of the BFF would be lost, or worse tainted, by this new album. How wrong can you be! They are older, and funnily enough so am I, and as if by magic they have written the new soundtrack to your life. Earlier albums reflected the anger and innocence of youth. This is wholly more mature and constructed with purpose and soul. It still has humour, outstanding musicianship and beautiful melody, harmony and lyrics, but it does it with confidence and energy, not a money grabbing "reunion" effort.

First listen "Sky High" and "On being Frank" jump out, but just listen again, and again and I dare you skip a track.

If you like BFF or Ben's solo stuff then this will hit and land very well. If you don't know his stuff then this a good place to start, but you will want to buy "Whatever and ever, Amen" and "Songs for Silverman" very soon afterwards. Enjoy!

David
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on 11 January 2013
The art work on this album is enough to satisfy on its own!! A lonely robot on his travels, beautifully illustrated and wonderfully put together!!!
And how funny to have a blank side for side four telling me I will eff up my needle if I play it and if I want I can draw a dick in the centre! And the vinyl is thick and chunky and with only 3 tracks on each side the needle fits in perfectly
As for the music Ben and the boys have come up trumps again! The opening track 'Erase Me' sounds like a seventies mad Sparks tune. Then Micheal Praytor and the lovely Sky High!
The rest of the album is just Bliss full The Ben Folds 5 harmonies, tunes and piano rockingness!
I've been a massive fan since the beginning seeing them at the 100 club, Ben Folds was good on his own with his 2 albums Songs for the silverman and his first solo album but the 5 together are back! Thank the lord for small mercies!!!
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on 11 January 2013
The art work on this album is enough to satisfy on its own!! A lonely robot on his travels, beautifully illustrated and wonderfully put together!!!
And how funny to have a blank side for side four telling me I will eff up my needle if I play it and if I want I can draw a dick in the centre! And the vinyl is thick and chunky and with only 3 tracks on each side the needle fits in perfectly
As for the music Ben and the boys have come up trumps again! The opening track 'Erase Me' sounds like a seventies mad Sparks tune. Then Micheal Praytor and the lovely Sky High!
The rest of the album is just Bliss full The Ben Folds 5 harmonies, tunes and piano rockingness!
I've been a massive fan since the beginning seeing them at the 100 club, Ben Folds was good on his own with his 2 albums Songs for the silverman and his first solo album but the 5 together are back! Thank the lord for small mercies!!!
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