Rockin' the Suburbs

Rockin' the Suburbs

4.8 16
by Ben Folds
     
 

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Following the mutual dissolution of Ben Folds Five, the band's namesake returns with his first true solo debut (not counting the experimental Fear of Pop one-off project). Playing with a fluidity that brings to mind such ivory-tinkling '70s stalwarts as Billy Joel, Joe Jackson, and Elton John, FoldsSee more details below

Overview

Following the mutual dissolution of Ben Folds Five, the band's namesake returns with his first true solo debut (not counting the experimental Fear of Pop one-off project). Playing with a fluidity that brings to mind such ivory-tinkling '70s stalwarts as Billy Joel, Joe Jackson, and Elton John, Folds takes a sardonic yet heartfelt approach that leans closer to Randy Newman's. Intriguing protagonists abound, the most interesting being a demanding, suicidal ex-girlfriend (the surprisingly spry "Losing Lisa"), an acid-baked partygoer turned born-again fundamentalist (on the ELO-flavored, fuzz-bass heavy "Not the Same"), and a techno-music clairvoyant and her dullard metalhead boyfriend (the harmony-soaked "Zak and Sara"). Elsewhere, Cake's John McCrea joins in on harmonies for the melancholy tale of a downsized middle-aged man ("Fred Jones Part 2"), and Folds sticks it to aggro-rock, chart-dominating boobs everywhere with the infectious title track. Name-checking Michael Jackson, Quiet Riot, and Bon Jovi, Folds strikes the same balance of irony and undeniable hooks he conjured up on BFF classics such as "Battle of Who Could Care Less" and "Song for the Dumped." Without missing a beat, Ben Folds has whipped up yet another batch of perfectly executed, piano-driven power-pop character studies.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Superficially, there's not much separating Ben Folds' first official solo album, Rockin' the Suburbs, from his records with Ben Folds Five. It's hard to note any difference, really, since he still works from the same vantage point, borrowing equally from new wave, '90s irony, and a love of classic pop. Still, there is a difference, even if it's hard to pinpoint -- perhaps it's an increased focus, perhaps it was a hot streak from Folds, or perhaps the Five really were more of a group than they seemed and he's benefited by working according to his own patterns. Regardless, Rockin' the Suburbs is as good a record as any he's made, possibly his best. It's still possible to hear his influences -- Joe Jackson still stands out, as do elements of Billy Joel and Todd Rundgren -- but there's no shame there, and he's accepted it as part of his musical personality so much that it sounds like him, even when it sounds familiar. Better still, he's tempered his tendency to be a collegiate wiseass -- it pokes through on the title track, but that's the rare time that it's brought to the forefront -- which helps his songs shine brighter. And while there are no surprises here to anybody familiar with his work, it's a remarkably consistent record, filled with great mid-tempo pop tunes and nicely sentimental ballads. It's simply a good, solid record that captures Ben Folds at his most engaging, and that's more than enough.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2001
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0074646161029
catalogNumber:
61610

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