This is the last I’m writing of Ben Folds this year, and I’m pretty glad about that.
Folds’ solo debut, Rockin’ the Suburbs, was released on 9/11. Yep, that 9/11. Kind of takes the wind out of your sails after putting so much effort and dedication into a work of art.
Because of the time period in which it was released, the album has some pretty negative emotions tied to it. I don’t want to blame them all on 9/11, but it certainly didn’t help.
I suppose I was still bitter at the dissolving of Ben Folds Five, considering just how good The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner was. As a damn fine record, and with the success of “Brick” still in people’s minds, they could’ve ridden that wave a few more years. Maybe the next album would have been the one to do it for them. Instead, they folded (sorry, had to), and Ben set out to do his solo work.
Rockin’ the Suburbs holds up as sort of cheesy to me, and because it was released while I was in high school, I can only associate it with that freshman year. I went to a really small Baptist high school. Thankfully, I made it out of the black hole that is the deep south, and I don’t plan on returning. While I can get away from the area physically, mentally I’ll never be able to climb out from being told that billions of people are going to a fictional place of torment for all of eternity. This was an album I listened to on repeat for days at a time then, so… yanno.
Some songs still stand up as amusing, though. “Gone” and “Not the Same” in particular, the latter of which is about a friend of Folds’ who dropped acid, hung out in a tree overnight at a party and came down as… you guessed it, a born-again Christian.
Also of note is “Fired,” which features a delightful 3-part harmony for the term “mother fucker.” Solid.
From an album that is now (gasp) 12 years old, this is “Fired” –
Standout tracks: “Annie Waits,” “Gone,” and “Not the Same”
Weakest track: Someone turn off “The Luckiest,” PLEASE.
RIYL: Nerdy piano rock. Jukebox the Ghost.