Whatever and Ever Amen

CD Cover Ben Folds Five

Review by Rodney Gitzel

45-second excerpt from "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces" (351 Kb .au file)

Can a piano band rock? You betcha. Hey, the likes of Fats Waller were rocking out long before anyone called it that, so why not?

Take a listen to the Ben Folds Five's "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces" -- a great big middle finger from someone who's made it to all those who used to pick on and torment him. Yes!! Preach it, brother! -- and tell me you don't feel like giving the three-finger rock salute! Similarly, "Song for the Dumped" is a full-frontal (and fun) attack on an ex-girlfriend ("Give me my money back, you bitch! And don't forget to give me back my black t-shirt.").

The trio (piano, bass and drums -- no guitar, thank-you) is definitely at their best when they're busy rollicking about (e.g. "Kate" and even "Battle of Who Could Care Less"). Slower tunes like "Fair" and "Cigarette" seem really lacking; then again "Brick" does work, and is one of the saddest, most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time. "Steven's Last Night in Town" spices things back up with nah-nah-nah's and a hopping klezmer band.

Whatever and Ever Amen reminds me a lot of taking the school bus to elementary school, 630 CHED on the staticy radio pumping my head full of 70's pop conventions. It seems every few seconds I hear something on this CD that I recognize but can't place, be it a bass sound, a chord progression, a vocal effect, a harmony... Not that I'm advocating a return to the 70's (eeeeg), but in small doses it's kinda fun.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 19, 1997

Index | Search | E-mail | Info | Copyright

Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.