Heavens, Ben's gotten a little sweary with this one! Don't get me wrong, I'm all for expletives, but I can't help but feel Folds' getting a bit old for this s**t.
Anyway, in short, this album's all substance and no style. A lot of people bemoaned the lack of the trade mark Folds humour in his previous album Songs for Silverman, and they'll all be pretty pleased with Way to Normal; there's chuckles aplenty. Sadly the humour comes at a cost: the jokes and ideas come at the expense of scansion and melody. This album's far too wordy and disjointed to stand up as a truly great album; something Folds has already shown he's capable of. This one's just a little too contrived, and a little over-produced too. There's far too much vocal compression on his vocal, and it sucks the life out of the recordings. This is particularly apparent on the otherwise-pretty-good duet with Regina Spektor, You Don't Know Me.
All things considered, the biggest joke about this release isn't even on the record. Folds leaked a copy of the CD onto the net, to be lapped up by fans. It turned out to be the result of a eight-hour session where he and his band mates recorded 6 "fake" songs as a joke at the fans expense. Priceless! You can hear the full story here.
Listening to the legit. CD release, however, I can't shake the feeling I've been given the "joke" record by mistake. While there's nothing particularly exciting about the music on this record (it's all good, just nothing we haven't heard before) it is a truly entertaining listen. I found myself actually chuckling aloud on a couple of occasions.
The word on the street, though, is that the fake album is actually better! I've not listened to it yet myself, but for those of you who are curious here's a link to a
torrent for the fake release (and as Folds released it himself, it's a 100% legal download)... I guess that it's got a bit more sparkle and a bit more edge to it, as it's bypassed the "production" prossess that has so mired the official version.