Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ben Folds Five

  • Ben Folds Five [Passenger, 1995] Choice Cuts
  • Whatever and Ever Amen [550 Music, 1997] *
  • The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner [Sony, 1999] B

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Ben Folds Five [Passenger, 1995]
"Boxing" Choice Cuts

Whatever and Ever Amen [550 Music, 1997]
crude piano portraits of general apathy and major boredom with a few feelings poking through ("Brick," "Song for the Dumped") *

The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner [Sony, 1999]
What jerks melody inflicts on us. With no connection to any human virtue of substance, the catchy tune ushers all manner of unpleasant personality traits into our lives. And if this smart aleck is less dangerous than Fred Durst, he also does less with what he was given. For sure he's less original musically (as opposed to melodically) no matter how many piano lessons he took, banging away like a garage guitarist with the occasional fancy stuff to prove he has a right--God, Joe Jackson was more fun. And although he also throws in the occasional well-turned sentiment to prove he has a right--"Don't Change Your Plans" and "Mess" are recommended to nice guys seeking covers--his basic program remains revenge-of-the-nerd. He al ways knew he was smarter than whoever and ever amen. He always knew there were people who'd admire him just because he was clever. And unfortunately, he was right. B