Csaba Petocz; Andros Rodriguez; Joe Costa; Anthony Ruotolo; Will Hensley; Csaba Petocz; Fernando Lodeiro; Joe Costa; Anthony Ruotolo
Dennis Herring; Dennis Herring
Number of Discs
40m : 24s
Album Notes and Credits
Personnel: Ben Folds (vocals, piano, Wurlitzer organ, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer); Jared Reynolds (vocals, electric bass, background vocals); Sam Smith (vocals, drums); Regina Spektor (vocals); Joshua Motohashi (spoken vocals); David Davidson , David Angell (violin); Jim Grosjean (viola); John Catchings (cello); Love Sponge String Quartet, The Love Sponge Strings (strings); Dennis Herring (drums, drum programming).
Audio Mixers: William Paden Hensley; Michael Brauer.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY.
Editor: Joe Costa.
Photographer: James Minchin.
Arranger: Ben Folds.
While the delightfully silly opener, "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)," is a particularly obvious nod to Elton John, one of the many dynamic pop keyboardists Ben Folds has frequently been compared to (also see: Billy Joel, Todd Rundgren), WAY TO NORMAL brings to mind another pianist who rose to power in the 1970s. With its quirky, witty wonderings about the neuroses of love and God and country, Folds's third record recalls Randy Newman post-LITTLE CRIMINALS--bright, bouncy, and buoyant, yet subtly twisted.
On "You Don't Know Me," Folds softly trades a cooing call-and-response with Regina Spektor, as perfect rapport and playful rhapsody disguise lyrics of human isolation in destructive love. The ultra-hooky "Brainwascht" fools around in the "You're So Vain" vein as Folds continues a beef with an unnamed busybody songwriter friend, all while a deceptively perky Bacharach-esque plays behind him. While he's still able to romp in the just plain goofy style that originally brought him attention in the Ben Folds Five days, particularly on the pun-happy Midwest walkabout "Effington," Folds is at his mature best when confronting exhausted honesty as on closing track, "Kylie From Connecticut."
Entertainment Weekly (p.76) - "[T]he piano man pounds the ivories with undiminished fervor -- and lyrical venom....Folds shows off his gentler side on the confessional tune 'You Don't Know Me'..." -- Grade: B
Mojo (Publisher) (p.102) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Folds crashes about on piano and throws in string arrangements that lurch from melancholy to chaotic discord..."
Paste (magazine) (p.56) - "These 12 songs are more of an anthropological study of aberrant human behavior, idiosyncratic news stories and bizrre chapers of the musician's own autobiography, all observed with the same unstinting absurdist eye as J.D. Salinger when he penned NINE STORIES more than 50 years ago."