Volume One

...Not satisfied with being the brains and name behind [a]Ben Folds Five[/a] (and who can blame him), [a]Ben Folds[/a] has gone and discovered the obligatory 'experimental side project'....

Volume One

4 / 10 SOME PEOPLE JUST HAVE TOO MUCH time on their hands. Not satisfied with being the brains and name behind Ben Folds Five (and who can blame him), Ben Folds has gone and discovered the obligatory 'experimental side project'.

As you might expect from a man more accustomed to piano cabaret, though, his ideas fall short of his ambition and any innovation is obliterated by a mass of 'kooky' samples. Ben might feel he's flexing his experimental muscle, but 'Volume One' is actually a painfully dated collection of instrumental and spoken-word tracks.

Yearning for credibility with a knowingly ironic tongue in its cheek, Ben hovers between dizzy blissed-out trance and goofy cheesy listening. Like Mike Flowers covering The Orb, it's an embarrassing joke gone too far. 'In Love' drags in William Shatner to talk like a one-man Radio 4 play over a standard Ben Folds Five tune, while 'Kops' is all '70s car chases and drum machines on overdrive. The rest is an endless pastiche of lame jokey lyrics, splashes of enthusiastic acid jazz and irritating outpourings of self-indulgence.

So maybe it's really a clever marketing ploy. After all, you'll welcome Ben Folds Five back with open arms.

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