Ben Folds Five returns with their first album in 13 years, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, which hits stores on Sept. 18. Until then, you can hear the entire album here on CBC Music.
The band broke up after 1999’s The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, and Ben Folds embarked on a successful solo career. Drummer Darren Jessee and bassist Robert Sledge both worked on various musical projects. A 2008 one-off concert for MySpace brought the band back together and planted the seed of working together again. It just took four years for Folds to find time in his schedule.
When Folds spoke to CBC Music last month, he warned that the new album won’t scratch any nostalgic itches.
“If someone wants us to sound like we used to, I think they shouldn’t waste their money,” Folds said. “I really don’t. I wouldn’t want anyone to be disappointed. We do sound like the same three people but after a lot of time has gone by and we don’t have it in us to manufacture some jive version of that.”
After hearing the album, you may disagree. The fact is no other band sounds like this. While piano pop has never been in short supply, Ben Folds Five’s smirking lyrics, Broadway harmonies, fuzz bass and raucous, fill-heavy drums may transport you back to your days of making mixtapes in your parents' basement.
The music is a little darker than BFF has produced in the past, though this should come as no surprise. The band’s last album, the coming-of-age The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, wasn’t exactly goofball pop.
“We are grown-up. I don’t think that life gets brighter and more playful. That’s just life and, if we’re gonna be honest, we’re making a record that’s us where we are now. Definitely, we’re not gonna get together and try to re-live this or that – it wasn’t even discussed. We just got together and did what we do.”
The Sound of the Life of the Mind is streaming on CBC Music until Sept. 18.
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