This album is absolutely fantastic. It is a great album for listeners who would like to be introduced to the unique music of Ben Folds Five. The album, originally released in 1997, was the bands second album. It went out of print eventually, and so this version was released with improved sound quality, and seven b-sides tagged on. The opening track, "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces", was released as a single. It bursts with a furious piano riff by Ben. The song is a revenge anthem, portraying the life of a young kid who was bullied and picked on at school, who becomes to be a very successful star. "Fair" is one of my favorite tracks on the album. What makes this song so great is the chorus of Darren and Robert singing "Buh ba ba, buh ba ba, buh ba ba, bop ba ba ba ba". It gives the song a very old fashioned, unique feel. This song is a typical Folds love-story-gone-wrong song, with the famous phrase "All is fair in love". "Brick" was surprisingly the bands first, real radio hit. The song, which is written about a trip to the abortion clinic, is highly emotional in lyrics and in music. With a soft piano, and Robert on the double-bass, it has a somber jazz feel to it. "Song For The Dumped" was also released as a single. The song, written by drummer Darren Jesse is obviously about a recent experience of getting dumped by his girl. The song was originally recorded just for fun, as you may be able to tell by the conversation at the beginning. There was no intention on putting this on the album, but somehow, it made its way. This song really shows the bands great sense of humor, with the chorus "Give you my money back/give me my money back, you bitch/I want my money back/And don't forget/And don't forget to give me back my black t-shirt".
The next song on the album is "Selfless, Cold and Composed". It is written about the all american guy, struggling through relationships, unable to really show his true feelings to people. This is a great, slow, quiet song, clocking in at 6:10, it is the longest track found on the album. "Kate" was released as a single, and is one of my favorite songs by the band. It is a typical crush song, about a girl that you see everyday, but never have the courage to talk to. A great, upbeat song. "Smoke" is a very cool song, featuring Ben on mouth organ, and other unique instruments. The song is about not being able to escape past events in your life. "Cigarette", also known as "Fred Jones, Part 1" is a great interlude, clocking in at a little over a minute. The song is written about Ben's character Fred Jones, and his struggles through daily life. One of my favorite lyrics from the song. . . ". . . Set the house ablaze/With a cigarette"
"Steven's Last Night In Town" explodes out of the ending of cigarette. A fantastically upbeat, fun song. Written about Ben's friend, Steve, who lived with him in an apartment in North Carolina. Steven kept on saying that he would move out of the apartment. He did, but he always kept coming back. A great song with fun lyrics, and great harmonies from Robert and Darren.
"Battle Of Who Could Care Less" was the final single released from Whatever And Ever Amen. "Missing The War" is one of my personal favorite songs off of the album. It is the sister song to "The Last Polka" found on Ben Folds Five first, self-titled album. The meaning is pretty self explanitory.
The B-sides: Adding b-sides to an already perfect album is risky business, but is always great for the fans. The seven added tracks found on this re-issue are great, and add the the whole feel of the album. "Video Killed The Radio Star", originally written and performed by '80's band The Buggles, is a great cover by Ben Folds Five. "For All The Pretty People" is a great song, featuring a hilarious conversation between the band.
"She Don't Use Jelly" is another cover, originally performed and written by the Flaming Lips. The lyrics were changed and rearranged from the original song. Great cover. "Theme From 'Dr. Pyser'" is a great, catchy instrumental.
All in all, this is a fantastic album from Ben Folds Five. Highly recommend it.