Published by brownpower
on 4.22.2006 at 12:08 PM.
Simultaneously challenging and accessible, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
is a song cycle about death and dying, people, relationships, optimism, innocence--you name it. On his first two albums, Ben Folds was quick to toss off bombs of blame (most notably on the vitriolic "Song for the Dumped"), but here he aims most of his criticism at the mirror. On the wondrously snarky "Redneck Past" he sings, "My ex-wives all despise me / try to put it all behind me / but my redneck past is nipping at my heels." Apparently he doesn't have a chip on his piano any more. The production is lush and ornate, with strings and horns embellishing Folds's usual quota of to-die-for hooks (which he seems to dash off as effortlessly as postcards from the beach). An obvious point of reference is Pet Sounds
, but Ben Folds Five widen their scope to also include hints of Steely Dan
, Pink Floyd
, and even Queen
, whose influence is front and center on the bombastic opener "Narcolepsy," a virtual homage to "Bohemian Rhapsody." Other highlights include "Army," a hilariously detailed indie-rock answer to Billy Joel
's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant." --David Menconi
I also included the b-sides (Birds and the Acoustic Version of Magic)Ben Folds Five - "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner"