My Top Ten Albums of 2012
While we're on the subject of reunions...
The Ben Folds Five: The Sound of the Life of the Mind
"Do It Anyway"
Truly successful musical reunions are few and far between. When they click, it's because the band members discover that they still like playing together, after all these years. Recapturing that magic is never a given, though. Reuniting bands can't play it by the numbers -- they can't bank it all on reproducing their old sound, especially if the band members are at a different stage in life now (like yesterday's entry the dBs, or like the Zombies). This is where the Rolling Stones still struggle with reality, trying to pull off their trademark kick-ass image when they're all senior citizens. When you reunite just for the money, something isn't quite right.
It often requires a little serendipity, too. In the case of the Ben Folds Five, they reunited at first just to crank out a couple tracks for his career retrospective album The Best Imitation of Myself. What they discovered, however, was not just that they enjoyed playing together, but even better, Folds re-discovered certain qualities in his music that emerged only when bandmates Robert Sledge and Darren Jesse joined him. When a front man goes solo, it's easy to think that he was the main talent, but a band really can be greater than the sum of its parts. Something special happened when they started working together, and they were excited to reconvene for this album.
I adore Ben Folds' solo work as well, but the driving energy and impish wit of the Ben Folds Five is something else, and was sorely missed. I hope they continue to get together periodically because . . . well, damn, this is fun music.
Here's my recent post on (still) my fave track on the album.