Despite earning Ben Folds his best chart position (solo and with Ben Folds Fives. I know!), last year's Way to Normal marked a major slip in songwriting for the piano-meister. The songs were homogeneous, the production was sterile, and the lyrics were bland yet bitter. In short, Way to Normal was an artistic stumble. And yet, while poor reviews from A.V. Club, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, AbsolutePunk, and others were plentiful (Entertainment Weekly liked it?), Folds (or at least his label) saw fit to release Stems and Seeds, a collection of alternate mixes, demos, and bonus tracks from the last year or two.
On one level, Stems and Seeds feels like an admission from Folds that Way to Normal was overproduced. On every other level, though, it's hard to give a shit. The record offers vocal mixes for fans to remix (another acknowledgment that it have been done better?). There are also a few live cuts, which is great for listeners who wish they could hear their favorite songs with worse audio quality and more clapping.
What began as a pleasant surprise (Ben Folds odds/ends collection? Yes please!) quickly turns out to be a double disc crap-fest with Stems and Seeds. It's so lame, it doesn't even deserve a full-length review.