Ben Folds returns after 2008’s solid solo album, Way To Normal but this time around he’s not alone. Armed with lyrics by British novelist/playwright/screenwriter extraordinare Nick Hornby. Hornby delivers lyrics that seem shockingly similar to what Folds would normally write himself. Although the one thing that we get in a suffering sense is that the lyrics try so hard in some songs to be a story, much like our lyric writer is used to. though Lonely Avenue succeeds at being a combination of pop music with the typical anti-pop feel Folds brings to the music industry.
The lead track, “A Working Day”, offers a fast temp with catchy lyrics. The chorus gets stuck in your head for a few minutes until you reach the next song. With Folds cooing the following line repeatedly in the chorus you can’t help but want to sing it too, “Some guy on the net thinks I suck/And he should know/He’s got his own blog.” Following this track is “Picture Window,” a song in which it feels like a typical Folds ballad that would be featured on his Songs for Silverman album. This song has a slow pace to it but at one point it just picks up and keeps going albeit at a slower pace than some of the other songs.
Folds and Hornby move on with the third track and probably one of the stronger songs on the album, although that’s not hard to say. “The Levi Johnston Blues” is all about the man who knocked up Bristol Palin. The lyrics are poignant as well as humorous for the style of song. The song’s set of lyrics are catchy much like the first track. The fourth track on the album feels like a large let down compared to the previous track. “Doc Pomus” is a song about a “cripple” who if I’m correct in my listening is a shrink. The lyrics are great but it feels like this is more of a novel idea than a song. While it maintains the pop vibe that the previous Folds tracks have. This song feels like something from Silverman as well.
“Your Dogs” is an upbeat track similar to something off Rockin’ the Suburbs, while the lyrics tell the tale of what some would consider to be white trash in southern America. This is another really strong song on the album. It also maintains a very radio friendly vibe. “Practical Amanda” is a very slow ballad once again similar to a track from Silverman. The chorus is very quiet and soothing. A strong slow moving track like this feels like it’s a bit of a dead weight on a typical album but on a Ben Folds album it’s just like listening to an intermission track at a musical. Folds and Hornby continue their album with the next track which continues the slow movement of the sound with “Claire’s Ninth.” After two straight slow songs the album feels like it’s losing steam but keep in mind this is Ben Folds here.
Folds and Hornby move into “Password” which continues a slow movement. It is strong lyrically and tells the tale of what every man probably goes through trying to get a girl but turns out she’s a liar. I love how the lyrics calls for Folds to spell out certain words just like…A PASSWORD! Another strong track on the album, to be honest I don’t think there has been a bad track yet. “From Above” brings back the uplifting pop vibe and makes you want to get up and dance. The track feels similar to “Zak and Sara” from Suburbs. The final two tracks “Saskia Hamilton” and “Belinda” are a fitting way to close out the album. “Saskia Hamilton” is a fast upbeat track that feels like something off of Fear Of Pop and “Belinda” is a slow moving track that feels like a fitting way to close out an album.
Overall I give Lonely Avenue a rave review of about 9.7 out of 10. This is probably one of the best albums from 2010. Check it out if you haven’t already.