Album: Whatever and Ever Amen
Artist: Ben Folds Five
1. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
4. Song for the Dumped
5. Selfless, Cold, and Composed
9. Steven’s Last Night in Town
10. Battle of Who Could Care Less
11. Missing the War
Ben Folds doesn’t have the best voice in rock, but gosh darn it he sounds exactly the same live as he does on his albums. And he can freakin’ play the piano. There’s probably not a piano bar player that couldn’t play his songs upon request, though unfortunately, most people aren’t too familiar with his work and that’s a shame.
The band’s second album begins with my favorite “to the people who told me I’d never make it: fuck you” song, and it only heats up from there. Fair might be my favorite song where the chorus has no words and is simply Ben singing “Buh, bah, bah!” repeatedly. Then you get probably his most famous song, Brick, an autobiographical tale about his high-school girlfriend’s abortion.
Song for the Dumped is just pure vitriol and great if you’re in the mood for it, not so much if you’re not. Selfless, Cold, and Composed is a extremely low-tempo, more even-tempered break-up song, and an amazing ballad at that. It initially didn’t do anything for me, but has really grown on me over the years.
Sadly, the album mostly sputters at this point until Steven’s Last Night in Town, which sports the lyric “Won us over with stories, about Linda McCartney; lost points with the ladies, for saying he couldn’t love a woman with cellulite.” I couldn’t care less about the next song, nor much for the next one either, as Missing the War is unbearably slow and Ben’s voice doesn’t sound so hot on the track, either. The album is saved at the end by Evaporated, a painful ballad that hints at a very dark secret that’s never revealed.
Like many of Ben’s albums, Whatever and Ever Amen is uneven, but there’s just too much awesome not to count it among my favorites.