In my original review, I pointed out the disconnect between what Ben told us via his PR materials ("This isn't a bitter divorce record! No, really") and the content of the album itself (the lead single, after all, is titled "You Don't Know Me," with lines like "...we could be together for so long and never know, never care, what goes on in the other one's head..."). I'm still working my way through that disconnect, trying to come to terms with what I know of the man versus what I get from the music, and deciding whether or not the two ever will reconcile — or if they even SHOULD reconcile, for that matter. That doesn't change that these are typically great Ben Folds songs, delivered with a casual intensity that's totally disarming; he pounds the piano so hard, and so good, that it's easy to get knocked over by the quick touching emotional shifts in his lyrics. Tell It To The Volcano, Miniature Tigers (September 16)A late '08 digital release seeing physical release in early '09, we're back to the pure pop again, but with more of a Talking Heads by way of Ben Kweller vibe. Miniature Tigers is the brainchild of frontman Charlie Brand, who according to the band's bio just started writing these offbeat catchy pop gems one day in his bedroom. If he's got this much talent in tossed-off ditties, imagine what he'd accomplish if he applied himself. Tell It To The Volcano brings to mind blood and love. It's the same impression I got from The Flaming Lips' great, great album The Soft Bulletin -- a confluence of the physical and the emotional, where the force of falling for someone is equated literally with the impact of being shot through the heart — "the softest bullet ever shot," as Wayne Coyne sings.
On "The Wolf," Brand sings of being "on your trail, I can smell your blood/I've had enough of unrequited love," and you feel him in the hunt, but more than that, you feel the mingling of the physical and the emotional into a single driving passion. It's moments like that and many, many others on these seven records that made 2008 a great year for music.