Not Forgotten: Ben Folds – Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP

An odds and sods release which lifts the majority of its material from a trio of previously released EPs, rather than a full album in its own right, Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP, is nevertheless one of the most out and out enjoyable releases that Ben Folds has ever put his name to.

Those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing the great man live know that he is a master of the well considered cover version, and there are a whole load of them on Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP. From numbers by The Cure, via the Divine Comedy, to The Darkness, Folds puts his own unique stamp on a wide range of well known tunes. Of course, Folds’ most notorious cover is his beautiful version of Dr Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit”. While the original arguably put feminism back decades, Folds’ sophisticated rendition re-tools it as a heart-rending ballad from which the irony doesn’t so much dip as pour.

The smart cover versions are only one of the reasons to seek out Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP though, as it also features some of the best original songs of Ben Folds’ career. “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You” is a prime example of why only a fool would underestimate Folds’ ability to pen an infectiously hook-laden slice of piano powered alt-rock. In this case it’s a gloriously defiant fuck you to those who spend their lives looking down their noses at those they consider less worthy and informed than themselves. In contrast to “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You”, “Learn to Live With What You Are”, is a stately ode to accepting your own limitations, and just enjoying life. Both of these songs arguably deserve to have been the centrepiece of full blown studio albums instead of landing on a mop-up release like Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP, however the fact that they weren’t only underlines the thrilling contrariness of Ben Folds, and a reminder that you should never ignore anything he releases.

Of course, because Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP is a Ben Folds album, there’s at least song where you question Folds level of quality control. In this case it’s “Rent a Cop”, a rollicking tune topped with a clumsy lyric, which is probably the most skipped track on the album.

The casual observer may assume that Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP is a release for completists only, however it’s arguably as good, if not better than any of Folds’ other solo albums and deserves investigation for long term fans and newcomers alike.

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