The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2012, 05:34:17 AM »
Hold That Thought has a Paul Simon feel to me. Very nice track. Draw A Crowd is the most I've enjoyed a song in a long time, whatever that means. Just really fun and funny and different. Before the release yesterday, I had heard six of the 10 tracks, and I was just very pleased by the remaining four. Thank You For Breaking My Heart is a really pretty song. Not a fan of Being Frank, but totally dig the rest. Overall I love the variety on the album. I declare this a triumphant return to the studio for BF5.  \m/

Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2012, 08:30:09 AM »
Meh.  Got nothing else to do at work, so might as well do one of the ol' "track-by-track" reviews that everyone always hates reading on Amazon and such  :P

Erase Me -- Great track.  Love how different it is basically from anything else they've ever done.  The manic solo at the end is great, really drives home the mood of the song of someone trying to keep it together through somewhat detached sarcasm but who is starting to unravel.  It's also the best piano work on the album.

Michael Praytor -- The intro is suuuuuper 90s, which I love of course.  The rest of the verses and choruses are fine, with the harmonies really shining when emphasizing "sky."  Bridge jam is good stuff as well.  Oh, and the last Darren fill is great.

Sky High -- Good Darren song.  His lyrics provide a nice contrast to the songs around them, as they're not as literal as others.

The Sound of the Life -- Actually like this one a lot, not sure why some people are/were down on it.  Everything about it, including (or especially) the production sounds vintage BFF.  The chorus (specifically the harmonies) is what does it for me.  I like how they arranged the background vocals into the verses as well.  I'm ok with the lyrics, except for the "rocks like a mother" line.  Wish Ben would've changed that one.  Also feel like the last two verses of the solo were a good time for a sweeping run down the scale to contrast the preceding chords, but ah well.

On Being Frank --  This is just OK.  The lyric saves it, which isn't a bad thing though.  I like the "home being someone else" line a lot.  I don't have a problem with the solo -- kinda cheesy, but that fits with the song.  Every time the song starts I always hear "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Barry Manilow!" in my head during the intro.

Draw A Crowd -- Definitely catchy (but so is herpes), but in a good way of course!  Love the 3 lead-ups into the refrains, and how they're different each time.  The vocal syncopation during the "so smooth you can hear the beard" line between Ben and R&D is a lot of fun, and coupled with the lyrics creates a really great energy.

Do It Anyway -- A good jam song, basically.  Nice work from Robert on this one.

Hold That Thought -- Really blossomed after the first listen.  Everything just works well together.  Reeaalllyyy wish we got to hear the pink-floyd chord in the bridge more than once, but I get the effect they were going for by only doing it once.  I like the extended piano line toward the end, and with it how they're musically "holding that thought."

Away When You Were Here -- Great song.  Best lyric on the album IMO.  I can see what Ben was talking about when he said in an earleir interview that this one was a "sleeper."

Thank You For Breaking My Heart --  I feel like Ben had this one in his back pocket in case the musical project ever came to fruition, but since it probably never will, he decided to bust it out for this.  Don't understand any negativity towards this one to be honest.  I think from a songwriting standpoint it's definitely the best track on the album. Just like with "Hold That Thought,"  I like how the music plays off the lyrics in this one (the extra measure in the verses  signifying the waiting and subsequent silence).  Really great song.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  8/10 sounds about right.  Can't wait to see them live though (will be my first time ever) -- have a feeling some songs will really open themselves up even more.

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Offline kingrikk (Kirk)

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2012, 09:29:59 AM »
So. I'm pretty positive about the album, and it's interesting to read everyone else's thoughts on it.

I've never been a huge fan of Ben's ballads - certainly not something I listen to on repeat. So inevitably Michael Praytor, Erase Me and Draw a Crowd are the stand out tracks on the album. I love the fuzz of Erase Me, but Michael Praytor has some truly awesome playing from Mr Sledge on it. Really love the opening of Draw a Crowd.

But I do love the fact that it does feel like BFF are back - the harmonies in places are brilliant, and exactly what I love about the first two albums. From what Ben said yesterday on the webcast, the harmonies got added later on as he realised it was too much like his solo albums, and I really hope that realisation means that any future albums will be written slightly differently keeping the emphasis on maintaining the Five sound from the beginning.

Not overly keen on Sky High, although it's grown on me, love On Being Frank, can take or leave the title track (or Landed, Part 2 as the opening chords suggest), love Thank You For Breaking My Heart - the lyrics are brilliant and mean so much to me.

Forgot the other two. That's also my review of them.

Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2012, 09:52:44 AM »
can take or leave the title track (or Landed, Part 2 as the opening chords suggest)

Really?  I don't think the chords sound anything like.  If you want to draw a comparison to another song, I'd say 'Barrytown' is the one it most elicits.

Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2012, 09:55:14 AM »
I already gave my opinion of the album in the "New BFF Album - Completed" thread.  (In brief, really like it.  8/10 seems right).  However, I've been giving some serious thought to the harsh review by Drowned in Sound and where I'd (subjectively, of course!) place this album in the spectrum of Ben's career.  My own order of preference:

1.) WAEA
2.) BFF
3.) TUBORM
4.) RtS
5.) BF Live
6.) TSOTLOTM
7.) the EPs
8.) SfS
9.) LA
10.) SuperSunnySpeedGraphic
11.) WtN/SeedsNStems

I definitely prefer BFF to Ben's solo work, though I don't think I would be as cruel about it as Drowned in Sound.  Some explanation:  I grew up on BFF, I identified immediately with those albums, their live shows were spontaneous, energetic, and unlike anything I'd seen/heard before.  RtS was a grand departure, but it was cool to hear Ben break free of the BFF mold, write straight forward pop songs, use guitars, layers of overdubs, over-the-top production.  The RtS tour was also really fun and I think Millard, Snuzz, and Jim are the best musicians Ben has played with outside of Robert and Darren.  Still wish that they could have followed up in the studio after the tour like they said they would.

I actually think the Ben Folds And a Piano tours of 02-03 are the most I have ever enjoyed Ben's work.  His piano skills had never been more on display, there was a ton of between song banter and interesting story-telling (pre-Rock this Bitch crowds actually let the man speak!), and the set lists were just so damn random.  I love the live album, and probably would have placed it higher, but I don't think a heavily-edited 75 minute record accurately displays just how surprising and revelatory those shows were.

I placed the EP's where I did because I remember feeling really excited by the prospect of Ben getting his own studio and building off the creative peak of the solo tour.  Even at 9 years old now, I still think those EPs are really interesting, if nothing else for hearing Ben try to figure out what his voice as a solo artist would be.  After that, SfS was a bit of a let down for me.  After the solo tour and the EPs, I was just expecting more.  Sonically, the whole thing just feels kind of "flat" to me.  Don't get me wrong, I think the songwriting could possibly be Ben's absolute best, and I loved the notion of him doing a "serious" album.  I think what is a "good" album, however, could have been Ben's masterpiece with a bigger sound and with Robert and Darren backing.

To summarize the rest, I like the sound of LA more than I like the songwriting itself.  Claire's Ninth and From Above more than justify that album though.  Great songs!  SuperSunny comes off as just a cash-grab.  The EPs were great on their own, why bother re-recording the songs and re-packaging them?  WtN is the low point.  We all know about the botched production, I think the songwriting wasn't particularly inspired, and some of the lyrics are downright cringe-worthy in places.

I have literally no idea where to place Fear of Pop, let alone how to categorize it!  Bizarre, yet strangely exhilarating.


Phew!  I accepted a new job, starting Monday, so for the last few weeks I've had wayyyyy too much time on my hands to bum around and listen to music.  I promise, no more tomes after this weekend!

Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2012, 10:32:56 AM »
After a few more listens, If I'm ranking Ben's 8 conventional albums on the sole merit of a cohesive "album" mine would be:

Self-Titled
Reinhold Messner
SfS
Whatever and Ever
Sound of the Life
Rockin' the Suburbs
Lonely Ave
Way to Normal

I know WAEA below SfS seems sacrilegious, but I'm evaluating the albums as a whole.  SfS is a more satisfying listen the whole way through from front to back than WEAE for me -- I just HATE the song sequencing on that album.  Obviously, the individual songs themselves are better.  When I listen to it now in my own re-arranged playlist, it's instantly right up there with Messner, probably ahead.  This same problem applies to a lesser extent to RtS.  Superior songwriting, poor sequencing which doesn't lead to as satisfying of a listen-through as it should.

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Offline TrashSpork

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2012, 12:15:07 PM »

...Michael Praytor is the standout for me....

i 100% agree

Michael Praytor!!!!!!!!!!..... best song....I listen to it too much right now. I should stop.
I like toast!

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Offline mrs.jones

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2012, 12:36:08 PM »
I really like this album. It's so much fun listening to new Ben Folds Five Songs.
Love Thank you for breaking my Heart, its such an amazing, beautiful song. Second favourite at the moment is Erase me, great song!
I have the album on constant repeat and enjoying it more and more with every listening.  :)

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Offline Playhouse

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2012, 03:02:08 PM »
I'm a lister.  I like to rank things in order of preference.  Yet, I just can't seem to bring myself to list the Ben & Five records in any kind of order.  Sure, Way to Normal could easily be classified as the weakest album out of the entire bunch.  And yet, there are songs on there that I prefer to some of the stuff on the second half of Silverman.  And while Whatever still holds a sentimental spot at the top for me, I couldn't discount the wonderful energy of the self-titled and the compelling concept of Messner to say it's definitively the band's best or my most favorite.  I do find that Sound might be their strongest album through "Do It Anyway", but don't know that I could push anything else out of the way for it.  Then, Suburbs is just as engaging for me as any of the Five stuff.

So I'm left to just enjoy the entirety of the work as a whole.  Are there high points and low points?  Sure.  But it seems to come on an individual track level rather than album-scale.
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Offline TrashSpork

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2012, 03:08:24 PM »
Okay Okay OKAY...."On Being Frank" is my new favorite!....really this tune could have been sung by Glen Campbell back in the 70s with its awesome hints of  Jimmy Webb influence a la "Wichita Lineman"
I like toast!

Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2012, 07:43:19 AM »

1.) WAEA
2.) BFF
3.) TUBORM
4.) RtS
5.) BF Live
6.) TSOTLOTM
7.) the EPs
8.) SfS
9.) LA
10.) SuperSunnySpeedGraphic
11.) WtN/SeedsNStems


Where would Naked Baby Photos fit on this list?

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Offline Kidney05

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2012, 07:02:27 PM »
Hey everyone, been a while.  I'll chime in a bit on the record.

I don't like it as much as I liked Lonely Avenue.  I thought Lonely Ave was back to Ben's best form since RTS.  My biggest problem with TSOTLOTM is that it just doesn't sound like ben folds five to me.  It's a far cry from how it used to be, which is a bit suprising because I thought the tracks from the greatest hits album were about what i'd expect from new ben folds five; of course, those were written back when they were together for the first time.  So, as far as this being a record to continue the 90s glory, we can forget that, which is a shame and probably the biggest hurt to the whole thing.

Now, track by track:
Erase Me- a bit too dissonent, quirky, all that.  I forget what the exact term is, but it sounds like he's modulating keys too much in a way that just makes the song too much of a stretch to be pretty by any means.  Always skipping this one now.

Michael Praytor-- Probably my favorite.  The closest we get to old ben folds five, and the catchiest of the bunch.  Although it's the most like the old BFF for me, it still seems very far.  Interesting lyrics.  I think I just love ben's classic piano chord pounding on the verse.

Sky High- another top one for me.  what i'd expect from darren, and it's pretty darn good.  I think it sounded better in the pledge video for some reason-- perhaps I don't like the drums as much or something?  I do love the piano work here though.

The Sound of the Life... - thought the lyrics didn't sound very ben like, so i'm not surprised that this is hornby.  I'm luke warm on this one; maybe it'll grow on me.  I think the buildup to the chorus is a bit lame, but I do dig the chorus.  The backup vocals may be a bit much.

On Being Frank - great lyrical idea-- totally seems in the same vein as something like doc pomus-- the seeming outer glory compared to the inner depression.  I like the strings, but maybe the chorus is a bit lame.  Probably the worst bit.

Draw a Crowd- great piano chord matching, but I think the track falls apart a little too much everywhere else.  

Do it Anyway - wasn't a favorite early on but it's growing on me.  of course, this has been around the longest, too.

Hold That Thought - a bit dissapointed with this one.  For some reason, I've never liked organ in ben's tracks, and it's particularly bad for me on this one.  Seems like a mashup of prison food and free coffee town... probably the worst bit for me, is again, the chorus.

Away when you were here - one that's up there for me.  I can understand how these last few can be pretty polarizing.  This is coming up to me as a top 4 though, and I really like the lyrics-- sentimental about a father figure... sad, but interesting.  

Thank you for breaking my heart - feel like there's no other ben song like this on piano.  It's totally the "frog on a log" track that was mentioned in a ben interview years ago-- picture kermit singing this.  It works pretty perfectly.  Interesting lyrics, again, and I like it enough to not skip.  Still, it doesn't stack up against ben's other album closers, or the fives.

So overall... I feel pretty mixed.  Michael P is the absolute stand out for me.  It doesn't beat lonely avenue, and is probably in the league of way to normal... which is probably towards the bottom of my list for everything, unfortunately.  But i'm not going to give up hope or anything-- WTN was a low point, yet LA was pretty fantastic as a rebound.  Perhaps the next BFF record will be less excitement about reuniting, and maybe be the TUBORM we're all dreaming of?  It is a bit sad though that this doesn't measure up to LA in my eyes-- Picture Window, Doc Pomus, Claire's Ninth, Belinda, Password--- all pretty damn fantastic songs, that only Michael Praytor can come close for me, you know?  I get chills from these old songs, and not really so on the new one.
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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2012, 10:53:38 AM »
Perhaps the next BFF record will be less excitement about reuniting, and maybe be the TUBORM we're all dreaming of?

You're setting yourself up for disappointment already.  They already made a TUBORM -- why would they want to make it again?

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Offline Kidney05

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Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2012, 02:59:16 PM »
Perhaps the next BFF record will be less excitement about reuniting, and maybe be the TUBORM we're all dreaming of?

You're setting yourself up for disappointment already.  They already made a TUBORM -- why would they want to make it again?

i meant sequel to TUBORM-- I forgot a couple words and that completely changes what I meant! haha.  Then again, I do think the Ben Folds Five Vault covered what album 5 could have been pretty well.
nobody deserves posts on their myspace site asking if they stabbed basketballs.

Re: The Sound of the Life of the Mind - What do you think?
« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2012, 05:41:25 PM »
Well I figured that's what you meant.  I just prefer artists not to try to recapture or "re-create" their earlier sound -- it eventually sounds forced and doesn't have as much staying power because you can tell it's not genuine.  I'd rather them do what they feel like doing at the moment.  We already have a self-titled and messner to listen to.