Five For Fighting

Five For Fighting

America Town

Aware/Columbia

In the wake of Ben Folds Five’s disheartening departure from existence, a few hopeful heads had turned to Five For Fighting in search of a new piano pop prophet. However, the alliterative triple-F leave an awful lot to be desired, and their unsolicited place in the shadow of Ben Folds Five leaves them almost pathetically meager. For one, Five For Fighting merely include the piano instead of relying on it, and most all songs utilize a guitar to hold the light and airy piano’s hand through what can only be justified as hopelessly boring melodies. Sleepy and dull, America Town isn’t anything awful to listen to; it’s just not very inviting.

Five For Fighting’s songwriting isn’t terrible, even though their delivery is. They put together cohesive tunes that almost — really, really almost — carry themselves, if only their legs were stronger. The final product, tragically, sounds more like the band rocked out for a long while and then, when the button was pressed to start recording, they staggered to catch their breath. This is recent Billy Joel pop sung by a combination of a sedated Eddie Vedder and the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, with lyrics that are somewhat inventive but always somber. FFF are nice to fall asleep to but hard to be excited about, and their brand of small-town contemporary rock has some substance — it’s just in desperate need of Viagra.

Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022, http://www.fiveforfighting.com

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