Ben Folds Way to Normal

Ben Folds Way to Normal
In a previous interview I did with Ben Folds for his last, relatively subdued album, Songs for Silverman, he noted, "You can put the album on at home and get into it and sit inside it and never feel like balloons came flying out of the air conditioning system with fucking confetti and stuff." Well, he's apparently learned his lesson, as Way to Normal is just bursting with bright, piano-driven melodies, hilarious swearing and much other aural confetti. Take the mad, pushing melody of "Dr. Yang," in which you can hear the piano creak under the pounding Folds puts it through. But, after Silverman, this album feels like Folds just turned his songwriting switch from "earnest" to "pop hits." "Bitch Went Nuts" is pure pandering to Folds's past glories and, man, it's actually downright offensive. The juvenile "Effington," despite its glorious melody and brisk pace, also sits differently. Normal reeks of trying to grab that college campus demographic, but it's hard to hate when it's so confident in its big pop ways. Is it possible to regress while also growing? (Epic)