I've been texting back and forth with Trevor for a good part of the day about our feelings on the album (it's OK for guys to discuss their feelings -- after all, it's the 00s). Trev said that he saw it as Ben Folds' Pinkerton (if you don't know what Pinkerton is, please leave). It's not a conclusion I would've come to myself but in some ways I agree with Trev; the album is full of rowdy sing-along songs, fuzzy 90s bass distortion, and introspective and/or intensely personal lyrics -- a side of Ben we've seen before, just not in this way.
One of my favorite tracks -- the "Butterfly" of this album, if you will -- is "Cologne". I'm pretty sure this song is about leaving his wife. Actually, pretty much the entire second half of this album -- namely "B**** Went Nuts" and "Brainwascht" -- seems to deal with divorce. This got me wondering about Ben's personal life and what relationship it might have to his songs. I did a little research. According to Wikipedia, he was divorced in April 2007 and married again in November of the same year, which explains much of this album.
I've always thought of Ben as a pretty shameless guy. This is evident in the fact that he doesn't mind involving others in his songs. Sometimes for the better ("Gracie", "Still Fighting It") and sometimes for the worse ("Trusted", "Give Judy My Notice"). And he's been dropping names (from "Kate" to Lisa to Fred Jones) since his Ben Folds Five days. Probably most are fictional, but I can't help but think they're based on real people and true events. While Ben goes easy on the name dropping this time around, the subject matter comes across as very real and extremely autobiographical. Which, incidentally, makes me wonder what his ex-wife and kids feel about his songs. What does she feel about how she "went nuts"? How does she feel that thousands of people will hear about it? I'm probably reading way too much into this, I'm just a little curios, that's all.
It's hard not to like Ben Folds, and Way To Normal is hardly an exception. It's a little more profane than Songs For Silverman and Rockin' The Suburbs, but it's still quite accessible and easy to get into. "Hiroshima", "Cologne", and "Brainwacht" are my favorite tracks.