Lonely Avenue - Nick Hornby

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. This is an affecting and intelligent record: neither Folds nor Hornby should be shy about suggesting a sequel.
  2. 70
    Lonely Avenue's two knights of music nerd-dom use their disarming pop smarts to wryly sympathize with the hapless Playgirl cover boy. The empathy and humor run throughout.
  3. It has to be said that, considering how Nick Hornby is credited with writing all of the lyrics here, the usual Ben Folds key words are present and there's only so much 'bastard', 'shit' and 'fucking' I can take. Despite this concern, as well as being Folds' most musically accomplished outing since going solo, it does feature the magnificent phrase, "some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know; he's got his own blog."
  4. It adds up to Folds' finest record yet, and while nobody would dare suggest that Nick Hornby would give up his day job, a sequel to this fascinating collaboration would be more than welcome.
  5. Lonely Avenue definitively exfoliates its ersatz-'70s, one-off joint-effort stance; more than anything, it's proof that pop can push back against middle-class maturity woes with both rhetorical and diatonic thickness.
  6. Both artists are gifted social commentators with a love for snarky, collegiate cynicism that hides a huge sentimental streak.
  7. Formal knowledge works against them as they go from unfunny Randy Newman ("Levi Johnston's Blues") to too-cute Barry Manilow ("Belinda") to overdone Elvis Costello ("Password," about breaking into a girlfriend's e-mail).
  8. Lonely Avenue is musical nirvana for lovers of the deft balance of sassy snark and sincere sentiment.
  9. Lonely Avenue has to be considered a big success for both artists.
  10. The pianist has a malleable voice, capable of swinging from poignance to sarcasm, though sometimes Hornby's dense wordplay can't help but sound awkward in making the transition from the page to the speakers.
  11. More sweet than cynical on this outing, Folds and Hornby are perfectly complementary as a pair of smart-asses with sentimental sides.
  12. Oct 26, 2010
    While Lonely Avenue isn't a crowning glory for either, it is yet another inspired work to add to their collection. [Fall 2010, p.67]
  13. 60
    Intelligent, funny, heartbreaking atl-rock, Hornby lyrics music and vocals by Folds. [Oct. 2010, p. 92]
  14. Hornby and Folds would seem to be a good fit in the checkered history of author/musician collaborations. And so it proves, up to a point. [Oct 2010, p.107]
  15. 40
    Cleverer and more talented people--say Clive James and Pete Atkin--have tried to make such collaborations work, and failed. Folds and Hornby join the line, a faint whiff of misogyny trailing behind them. [Oct 2010, p.97]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Aug 15, 2012
    I believe this album has great vocals and random funny lyrics. I would suggest listening to it. Nick Hornby and Ben Folds are quite the team although some would like to differ I would just get your own opinion of the album. Most of the songs have a very good tune. Full Review »
  2. Oct 14, 2010
    Never mind the often hilarious, sometimes touching lyrics by Hornby. This is the best Folds has sounded since 2001's wonderful solo effort, "Rockin' the Suburbs." It's as if having someone else write the words re-awakened Folds' musical muse. I really hope they work together again. Full Review »
  3. Oct 6, 2010
    After a mild disappointment from Ben Fold's last record, Way to Normal, I was hoping for a redemptive record. After hearing the news that Nick Hornby (who I had never previously heard of) was writing the lyrics, my skepticism was excited. I figured that this record would be either a soaring success or an abject failure. Well, I was wrong--this is a good record with some fantastic tunes on it, but there are some definite misses.

    I'll get to the point: I'm digging the heartbreaking lyrics, clean, lush production, and hummable tunes on great cuts like "Claire's Ninth," "From Above," and "Doc Pomus." What I'm not digging are the luxurious, indulgent tunes like "Levi Johnston's Blues" and "Password," which are the two worst tunes on the album. They are not up to the standard that I would hold Ben Folds to. "Belinda," the other giant song on this album, rings well and contains a catchy melody that manages to emulate a hit song-in-a-song, a clever device that is used for considerable emotional punch.

    I happen to disagree with some of the meaner reviews that claim that Folds' music is little more than sugary, sympathetic generic '70s knockoff pop. The arrangements are dynamic, sweeping, and grand (except on "Practical Amanda," that is). Folds is perhaps one of the top ten melodists in pop, and his melodies are carried well by his competent tenor.

    Overall, this album is a well-produced foray that oozes musicianship. I would certainly recommend it to Folds fans, and any well-read music lover that still loves catchy melodies and complex instrumentation.

    Hits: Working Day, Doc Pomus, Your Dogs, Claire's Ninth, From Above
    Misses: Levi Johnston's Blues, Password, Practical Amanda
    Full Review »