Where’s an EP when you need one?
If Ben Folds’ third solo disc had been pared down from 12 tracks to say, six or seven, Way to Normal might have ranked among the top releases of the fall season. Unfortunately, in its entirety — despite rhythmic, poptastic piano tunes like the album-opening “Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)” and album-closing “Kylie From Connecticut” — Folds’ latest simply gets bogged down with too much filler.
Ranging in scope from sordid tales of (I think) a stray dog who’s “probably running loose with the bitches” (“Errant Dog”) to free coffee (the aptly titled “Free Coffee”) — not to mention “Bitch Went Nuts,” in which Folds comes off like Rivers Cuomo karaoking early ’90s Dr. Dre — some of Way to Normal’s most rousing musical tracks are overshadowed by lame titles and ridiculous lyrics. Even an appearance by the always amazing Regina Spektor (criminally underutilized on “You Don’t Know Me”) can’t save Way to Normal from ranking quite low in an otherwise brilliant career discography.