Since last week, I've given a number of spins to the majority of Ben Folds's third proper solo album, Way to Normal. Reading Jeff's post about his thoughts on the record, I'm finding myself in a bit of a pickle.
Longtime readers are probably aware of my fandom of Ben's work with Ben Folds Five and solo, so I'm a little torn with saying what I really think of Way to Normal and reflecting on previous Ben releases that didn't immediately grab me.
Right now, I can't say I'd go beyond the Sound Opinions rating scale of "Burn It" for Way to Normal. Something seems a bit off in the sense that the record is mostly whimsical and bitter at the same time. I dig tracks like "Brainwascht," "Hiroshima," and "You Don't Know Me," but I'm not getting much mileage out of them, or really any of the other tracks.
But before I go into a ritual I find strange and bizarre with some critics who get paid to spout their opinions, I want to come back to this record and let it grow on me. No, I'm not going to renounce my love for Ben's work ever since I heard Whatever and Ever Amen back in 1997. No, I'm not going to pull out the daggers and stick them into my nitpicks of the album. I guess since I'm not the hardest person in the room to be convinced and am usually reluctant to make bold, solid stance on opinions that are subject to change, the jury's out for me.
I remember when The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner came out. I was not really blown away by the record, given its rather dour tone, even on its most upbeat songs. I remember originally thinking Rockin' the Suburbs seemed like a simple retread of Ben Folds Five's best material. Both records spent plenty of time with me, and I grew to like them more over time. I'm just unsure how much more time I want to commit to Way to Normal.