The Sound of the Life of the Mind

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The Sound of the Life of the Mind
Studio album by Ben Folds Five
ReleasedSeptember 18, 2012
RecordedJanuary - February 2012
GenreAlternative rock, piano rock, power pop
LabelImaVeePee Records
ProducerJoe Pisapia[1]
Ben Folds Five chronology
The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
The Sound of the Life of the Mind
Singles from The Sound of the Life of the Mind
  1. "Do It Anyway"
    Released: 2012
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[13]
Alternative Press3/5 stars[3]
American Songwriter3.5/5 stars[4]
The A.V. ClubB[5]
Consequence of Sound3.5/5 stars[6]
Drowned in Sound(6/10)[7]
musicOMH3.5/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork Media(3.5/10)[9]
PopMatters7/10 stars[10]
Slant Magazine2.5/5 stars[11]
Under the Radar4.5/10 stars[2]

The Sound of the Life of the Mind is the fourth studio album by Ben Folds Five, released on September 18, 2012.[14] It is the group's first release since 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.

The album debuted at No. 10 on Billboard 200, which is Ben Folds' first top ten album on the chart, selling 30,000 copies.[15] It has sold 67,000 copies as of August 2015.[16]


In 2011, Ben Folds Five reunited to record three tracks for Ben Folds' The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.[17] Bolstered by the experience, the band reconvened in Folds' Nashville studio and recorded the bulk of the album over a six-week period between January and February 2012.[18] Following the main tracking session, the band met for a separate two-week session to record main vocals and a final one-week session for background vocals in the week prior to their Bonnaroo Music Festival appearance in June 2012.[19] All but two of the songs on the album are written by Folds. Darren Jessee wrote the song "Sky High" and author Nick Hornby provided unused lyrics from his 2011 collaboration with Folds on the album's title track.[18]

The band considered using producer Caleb Southern, who had produced their first three albums, but he was unavailable.[19] In his place, they turned to producer Joe Pisapia, a multi-instrumentalist and former member of the band Guster.

Of the sessions together, Folds noted that they have enough material for at least two more records.[20]

Crowdfunding and release[edit]

An unmastered version of the album's first single, "Do It Anyway", was released by Ben Folds on his official Facebook page on May 4, 2012, to kick off a grassroots effort to market and promote the album.[21] Though Folds was signed to Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records for his solo work and Jessee was signed to independent label Bar/None Records with his band Hotel Lights, the reformed Ben Folds Five was unsigned. With no label to distribute their new album, on May 7, 2012, the group launched an interactive pre-sale campaign for the press and release of the album on PledgeMusic. The crowdfunding campaign reached 200% in its first week.[20]

The resulting initiative, ImaVeePee Records, partnered with Sony Music Entertainment to release the album worldwide. A portion of the funds generated by the campaign, by the total album sales, and by purchases of other Ben Folds Five items through PledgeMusic will be donated to Music Education and Music Therapy, a charity selected by the band.[22]

The fully mixed and mastered album version of "Do It Anyway" was released for digital download on August 6, 2012. In the two weeks leading up to the commercial release of the album, the band hosted full previews of each track via exclusive releases through various music media outlets, including Spin,[23] Conan O'Brien's,[24] AOL's,[25] Fuse,[26] Idolator,[27] Rolling Stone,[28] Paste,[29] Yahoo! Music,[30] and MSN's Reverb music blog.[31]

The video to "Do It Anyway", which premiered mid-September 2012, featured the puppets of Fraggle Rock, Chris Hardwick, Rob Corddry, and Anna Kendrick.[32]

Album art[edit]

The album cover features an exclusive piece entitled "Submerged" by artist Eric Joyner, noted for the focus on "robots and donuts" as the main subjects of his work.[33] An adaptation of his 2007 work, "The Collator", "Submerged" is a somber yet whimsical piece showcasing a toy robot sitting thoughtfully on a mossy undersea rock as fish swim about it. The image evokes French sculptor Auguste Rodin's renowned work The Thinker (Le Penseur).

More of Joyner's artwork is featured throughout the physical packaging of the album.

The single for "Do It Anyway" was originally released with artwork by Luther Mosher[34] until the full album was released. Afterwards the album art was attached to the single. It is still being used in some places for promotion.[35]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ben Folds except where noted[36].

1."Erase Me"  5:15
2."Michael Praytor, Five Years Later"  4:32
3."Sky High"Darren JesseeJessee4:42
4."The Sound of the Life of the Mind"Nick HornbyFolds4:10
5."On Being Frank"  4:33
6."Draw a Crowd"  4:14
7."Do It Anyway"  4:23
8."Hold That Thought"  4:14
9."Away When You Were Here"  3:30
10."Thank You for Breaking My Heart"  4:50



Chart (2012) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[37] 24
UK Albums (OCC)[38] 40
US Billboard 200[39] 10
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[40] 3
US Top Tastemaker Albums (Billboard)[41] 9
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[42] 6


  1. ^ Folds, Ben. "More vocals... | PledgeMusic". PledgeMusic. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Critic Reviews for The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind". Metacritic. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  3. ^ Heisel, Scott (September 23, 2012). "Ben Folds Five - The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind". Alternative Press. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Reed, Ryan (September 18, 2012). "Ben Folds Five: The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind". American Songwriter. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  5. ^ Zaleski, Annie (September 18, 2012). "Ben Folds Five: The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  6. ^ Grant, Sarah (September 20, 2012). "Album Review: Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  7. ^ Warfield, Russell (September 13, 2012). "Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  8. ^ Murphy, John (September 17, 2012). "Ben Folds Five - The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind". musicOMH. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  9. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (September 20, 2012). "Ben Folds Five: The Sound of the Life of the Mind". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  10. ^ Troper, Morgan (September 17, 2012). "Ben Folds Five: The Sound of the Life of the Mind". PopMatters. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  11. ^ Lanthier, Joseph Jon (September 21, 2012). "Ben Folds Five: The Sound of the Life of the Mind". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  12. ^ Peisner, David (September 13, 2012). "Ben Folds Five, 'The Sound of the Life of the Mind' (ImaVeePee/Sony Legacy)". Spin. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  13. ^ Monger, James Christopher (September 18, 2012). "Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind". Allmusic. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  14. ^ " The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind". Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  15. ^ Keith Caulfield (September 26, 2012). "Pink Earns First No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard.
  16. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on August 19, 2015.
  17. ^ Folds, Ben. "Details On The Upcoming Retrospective Album Announced". Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  18. ^ a b Hyman, Dan (September 5, 2012). "Ben Folds Five Craft First New Album in a Decade". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  19. ^ a b "Ben Folds Five Listening Party: "The Sound of the Life of the Mind"". Livestream. September 12, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  20. ^ a b Folds, Ben (May 15, 2012). "Ben Folds Audio Interview - New Ben Folds Five Record". Blogger. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  21. ^ Folds, Ben. "Ben Folds Facebook Blog". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  22. ^ "Ben Folds Five To Release 'The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind' September 18th!". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  23. ^ Martins, Chris (September 5, 2012). "Ben Folds Five Return with 'Erase Me': Preview Their First LP in 13 Years". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  24. ^ Campbell, Tim (September 6, 2012). "Ben Folds Five's "Michael Praytor, Five Years Later" - Exclusive New Track". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  25. ^ Reilly, Dan (September 7, 2012). "Ben Folds Five, 'Sky High' -- Song Premiere". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  26. ^ "Exclusive: Ben Folds Five Premiere "The Sound of the Life of the Mind"". September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  27. ^ Daw, Robbie (September 10, 2012). "Ben Folds Five's "On Being Frank": Idolator Premiere". Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  28. ^ "Song Premiere: Ben Folds Five, 'Draw a Crowd'". September 12, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  29. ^ Evans, Taylor (September 13, 2012). "Song Premiere: Ben Folds Five - Hold That Thought". Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  30. ^ Parker, Lyndsey (September 14, 2012). "Exclusive Song Premiere: Ben Folds Five's "Away When You Were Here"". Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  31. ^ Brown, Mark C. (September 17, 2012). "Superb new song from Ben Folds Five". Reverb, the MSN Music Blog. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  32. ^ Official "Do It Anyway" on YouTube
  33. ^ Joyner, Eric. "RobotsAndDonuts Twitter". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  34. ^ Mosher, Luther. "Do It Anyway Tumblr". Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  35. ^ Mosher, Luther. "Do It Anyway Diffuser". Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  36. ^ Folds, Ben. "Ben Folds Facebook Blog". Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  37. ^ " – Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind". Hung Medien.
  38. ^ "Ben Folds Five | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  39. ^ "Ben Folds Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  40. ^ "Ben Folds Chart History (Top Alternative Albums)". Billboard.
  41. ^ "Ben Folds Chart History (Top Tastemaker Albums)". Billboard.
  42. ^ "Ben Folds Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard.

External links[edit]