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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ben Folds and Nick Hornby better sold separately

    Ben Folds and Nick Hornby better sold separately

    You’ve probably heard Ben Folds’ music before. He’s well-known for his skillful piano playing, witty lyrics and innovative rock albums. His songs such as “”Rockin’ the Suburbs”” and “”The Luckiest”” have been popular for their jazzy feel and creative storytelling. Likewise, Folds became an Internet sensation when he did a mellow cover of Dr. Dre’s “”Bitches Ain’t Shit.””

    You also might be familiar with Nick Hornby, the English novelist who wrote “”High Fidelity,”” “”About a Boy”” and “”Fever Pitch.””

    So what happens when you put these two artists together? Ben Folds’ recent album Lonely Avenue puts Hornby’s lyrics to music in an attempt to create something truly original. However, sometimes good things should just be left as they are.

    Although Folds’ music is well-composed as always, his unique style doesn’t seem to match up with Hornby’s awkward and sometimes cliché lyrics. The songs featured on the album are mostly melodramatic stories that are more prose than poetry. Although there are several attempts to capture Folds’ well-known wit and satire, the song “”Levi Johnston’s Blues,”” told from the point of view of Bristol Palin’s boyfriend — about how he’d rather be hunting moose and playing hockey than be in the spotlight, just doesn’t live up to the expectations held by longtime Ben Folds fans.

    Lonely Avenue also features a dramatic quasi-ballad called “”Picture Window.”” The lyrics of this song would make even Hawthorne Heights cringe, as the chorus declares, “”You know what hope is / hope is a bastard / hope is a liar / a cheat and tease / hope comes near you / kick its backside.”” It’s funny, too, that in the same song, a singer who’s not afraid to say “”shit”” and “”fuck”” sings the lyric, “”symbolism’s all crap.””

    If you’re a longtime fan of Ben Folds, or enjoy Nick Hornby’s books, keep the two separate. This album makes a valiant attempt to do something new, but Folds’ music is much better when he writes the lyrics himself.

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