Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. Dec 4, 2012
    We still find this trio a little yawn-worthy. [No. 93, p.55]
  2. Nov 30, 2012
    Way too easygoing and disappointingly light on rockers. [Oct/Nov 2012, p.128]
  3. Oct 23, 2012
    In the end, it's all a bit too sensible. [Nov 2012, p.95]
  4. Sep 28, 2012
    Folds stays true to his career-long mission to whisk up a melting pot of musical styles. [Nov 2012, p.73]
  5. Sep 24, 2012
    This is a solid, if unspectacular, comeback and fans will be crossing their fingers that The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind is a new beginning, rather than a one-off cash-in.
  6. Sep 21, 2012
    There's a pall of maturity over The Sound of the Life of the Mind that both unifies and wrecks it. It rejects, if only halfheartedly, the nerdy, masculine piss that once made the band such guilty fun.
  7. Sep 20, 2012
    Even as Sledge and Jessee work to add some rough edges to the music, their frontman keeps his distance on Sound of the Life of the Mind, as though he can't quite get outside his own mind. As a result, the album sounds barely able to polarize, like Folds is rockin' the suburbs gently to sleep.
  8. 70
    The freewheeling Ben Folds Five still do the best imitation of themselves.
  9. Sep 18, 2012
    There's nothing about Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee's performance on Life that will make you realize you're listening to Ben Folds Five. Still, a few songs are gems. [Oct 2012, p.84]
  10. Sep 18, 2012
    Very little here could be accused of being twee; Folds sounds invigorated to have a rock band behind him again, making him play harder, sing harder, be harder.
  11. Sep 18, 2012
    Sadly, the album at large is plagued by many of the things which have seeped into Folds' sound over the last ten years: the seriousness, the restraint, and the descent into middle age.
  12. Sep 18, 2012
    Only "Do It Anyway" and the title track sound at all like amenable pandering. All the rest feels totally organic.
  13. Sep 18, 2012
    Mind sounds exactly what a mature Ben Folds Five record should sound like: hard-won wisdom and withering observations with an unabashedly sentimental core.
  14. Sep 18, 2012
    The good news is that one of the most consistently entertaining pop-rock bands of the 1990s is back together. The bad news is that the album they've released to mark their comeback isn't quite a classic.
  15. Sep 18, 2012
    Sarcastic, sweet, subversive, geeky, and awkward are hard vibes to juggle, but Folds, Sledge, and Jessee manage more times than not to keep all of the pins in the air, which after more than a decade apart, is pretty remarkable.
  16. 70
    Unfortunately, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind loses a little steam after that outstanding opening trifecta, either when Folds leans too heavily on his flashy lyricism or downplays his band's instrumental strengths.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Sep 21, 2012
    This is a great comeback album. Please excuse Pitchfork for, once again, not being able to get out of their own way. BFF really channel their early material yet you can still hear the influence of Ben Folds' solo output as well. It's as good as expected and definitely worth your time. Check it out. Full Review »
  2. Jul 2, 2013
    This isn't the Ben Folds Five I remember. This is some lukewarm rendition that doesn't know what it wants to do. Identity crisis time. Are we grown up?, they ask themselves. Yeah so lets do ballads but without any melody. Are we self-observing-yet assured awkward hipsters still? Yeah but we aren't going to write anything witty, clever or lyrically smooth with the music.

    All these songs are bland and too long. And I mean all of them. Track 2 is okay but who the heck is Michael Praytor and why should we care?

    If this is supposed to be the sound of life in my mind, I want a new sound. Or life. Or mind. Or all of them please.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 20, 2013
    This is more great music by Folds and friends. Professional critics play to their respective niches. You needn't factor their opinions into the product of your own. Full Review »