A new tweet confirms that the Ben Folds Five are in the studio recording their first new full-length album since 1999. Folds, posting on his @BenFolds page, published a picture of the group at work on new music, with the message: “It’s happening fo sho. Day 1, in studio with Robert and Darren through March.”
The Ben Folds Five, formed in 1993 at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, includes pianist Folds, bassist Robert Sledgeand drummer Darren Jessee. Over seven years as a group, the Ben Folds Five released three studio projects, a collection of B-sides and outtakes, and eight singles before disbanding in October of 2000. Since, they’ve reunited for a concert in 2008, playing their final album in its entirety, then got together to record three new tracks for the 2011 Folds compilation The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.
The group is best known for the hit single “Brick” from 1997’s Whatever and Ever Amen.
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Ben Folds and the group. Click through the headlines for full reviews …
ONE TRACK MIND: BEN FOLDS FIVE, “HOUSE” (2011): The difference between this tune and “Brick” is in the band’s musical ambitions. “House” begins with a plaintive piano figure that recalls that earlier triumph, but then quickly moves into a more musically complex arc — adding soaring strings, this jagged guitar and a vocal that goes from sweet melancholy to a howling recrimination: “I’m not sorry for what I’m feeling — blow the walls out, and bring the ceiling to the ground.” If “Brick” ended with a crushing desolation, “House” imagines what would happen if you could push back against your own greatest hurts.
BEN FOLDS – STEMS AND SEEDS (2009): This was Ben Folds’ awful-sounding Way To Normal, in resequenced order, seemingly suffering not a whit from the evils of compression. It sounded wonderful. The drums had actual tone, Ben’s piano sounded alive, and those great harmony vocals sprinkled throughout the album practically sounded like they were right in the room. Not only do we get the great “demaster,” but Folds had seen fit to include all of the now-famous “fake songs” that were leaked prior to the album’s release in the fall of 2008, a live version of “You Don’t Know Me” from Late Night With Conan O’Brien Regina Spektor handling her part live), plus a piano/orchestra version of “Cologne” that was available on the iTunes and Japanese editions of the album.
BEN FOLDS – SPEED GRAPHIC (2003): On a full album (like 2006’s Supersunnyspeedgraphic, taken from this project as well as Folds’ subsequent Super D and Sunny 16 EPs), “Give Judy” and “Wandering” wouldn’t have appeared as morose as they did here. But when there’s only 5 selections on the release — and two of them are down-tempo — the general atmosphere of the set is pretty dark. It was just a little bit of a let down that the result of Folds’ first private release wasn’t as intense, personal, mature and yet somehow fun as previous projects had been. “Intense” and “personal,” yes but fun? Not so much, unfortunately.
ONE TRACK MIND: BEN FOLDS FIVE, “JANE” (1999): A fine example of Folds’ practicing the long lost art of writing a memorable melancholy melody (watch out, I’m an alliteratin’ fool) and put it in the nice, warm wrapper of a vintage Rhodes. Next time you pull out your copy of the Five’s finale The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, instead of playing “Army” and “Regrets” over and over again and skipping over the rest, take a break from Ben’s gleeful irreverence and pretend that Joe Jackson or Todd Rundgren had returned to form. It’s easy to imagine when you listen to “Jane.”
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