Rockin' the Suburbs
our score: 4.0 out of 5.0
from band leader to solo artist can be one of the most dangerous
an artist makes in his career. Sting managed to do it successfully,
and enjoys greater recognition today than he ever did as frontman
of The Police. Still, who really knows what Glen Phillips of Toad
the Wet Sprocket or Evan Dando of the Lemonheads are doing today?
A few people at best. So when Ben Folds announced he would be
continuing as a solo artist after Ben Folds Five's breakup in
2000, he was treading in dangerous waters.
Folds had two things going for him. One was the fact that his
previous band bore his name - instant recognition (again, who
even knows that Evan Dando was the frontman of The Lemonheads
these days?). The other was his indisputable talent, both as a
musician and a singer/songwriter.
the strict piano / bass/ drums formula Ben Folds Five had stuck
so rigidly in the past (barring the failed, yet impressive Unauthorized
Biography of Reinhold Messner) for an array of keyboards,
drum sequencers, guitars(!), and his ever-present Baldwin piano,
Rockin' the Suburbs expands Folds' sound both musically
and introspectively as well. From the 80's handclap / drum machine
and piano sound of the opening track "Annie Waits" to
the Brian Wilson harmonies of "Gone" to the solo piano
of "The Luckiest" (Folds' first true love song), Suburbs
to Folds' superb instrumentation is a new seriousness and maturity
in lyrics throughout the album. Songs of angst and geekdom from
the past have been replaced with a variety of character sketches
and stories - half the songs on Suburbs include characters'
biggest downside is the title track itself. While Folds' has created
a funny parody knocking the sounds of recent rock phenoms such
as Limp Bizkit, the track doesn't fit the rest of the album with
it's harder edge and sarcastic lyrics. Misplacement aside, it
remains a strong track and a nice break for Folds to let his humorous
Folds has proven that not only can he succeed as a solo artist,
but it is quite possible that the "Five" had been holding
him back. Easily one of 2001's best.
liked Rockin' the Suburbs...
2. zak and sara
3. still fighting it
5. fred jones part 2
6. the ascent of stan
7. losing lisa
8. carrying cathy
9. not the same
10. rockin' the suburbs
12. the luckiest