A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Newswire A.V. Undercover
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Ben Folds: Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!



Ben Folds

Album: Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!
Label: Epic

Community Grade (2 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade


On paper, Ben Folds’ side projects seem like bizarre stunts or products of drunken dares. First he teamed up with sentient punchline William Shatner to produce and co-write Shatner’s bittersweet, unexpectedly well-received comeback album Has Been. Now he’s commissioned a crazy, alternate-universe greatest-hits collection in University A Cappella!, a collection of Folds’ songs performed by university a cappella groups. Why? You’d have to ask Folds. Heavens knows what’s going on inside that man’s mind. Like Has Been, Ben Folds Presents is a curious semi-vanity project that occasionally transcends its gimmicky premise. The elaborate, sometimes overly busy vocal arrangements highlight the lush Beach Boys/Burt Bacharach harmonies and wryly literate storytelling that have long been fixtures of Folds’ oeuvre, while boisterous, upbeat numbers like “Army” are executed with moxie to spare. A Capella leans heavily and perversely on ballads, and while there are a few misfires (like an ill-considered glee-club-goes-R&B rendition of “Brick”) and some awkward beat-boxing, the best renditions retain the exquisite melancholy of the originals. The disc is little more than a footnote in Folds’ aggressively eclectic career, but it’s a surprisingly vital, intriguing one.