Pop Preview: Sounds like teen spirit

Ben Folds Five

Manchester University

may take their rock sensibility from the Rolling Stones and jazz beats from Squeeze, but at least they try to make sure that everything else is original. Self-described as a "piano, bass and drums power-trio", the misleadingly named threesome's piano-led sounds have gained them UK chart success with the Top 40 hits "Underground" and "Battle of Who Could Care Less" from their second album Whatever and Amen.

The song titles are an insight into 's serious intentions. There will be no messing with guys who belt out lyrics like "Song for the Dumped", with it's uncompromising chorus, "Well fuck you too/ Give me my money back, you bitch". However the album sleeve notes show that for all their twisted lyrics, they are sincere. It is littered with such earnest promises as "The band and producer are confident that your money was well spent on an album relatively free of major sonic and musical problems."

Aside from their often obscure and bitter lyrics, have also reintroduced classical instruments to their sets. A grand piano at a pop gig causes an outcry, backed by the belief that the piano belongs to late-night television with Jools Holland or under the hands of Elton John. "If getting your instrument to a show is ridiculously difficult, do you think you're going to make any compromises once you get there?" says Ben Fold.

The album sleeve notes hit back at their critics with, "The lyrics or text were created to detract from the repetition inherent in modern instrumental pop music." Sounds like American teen spirit is about to hit Britain.

play Manchester MDH, tonight; Bradford University, tomorrow; Shepherd's Bush Empire 11 Dec; Glasgow QMU 12 Dec and Dublin Redbox 13 Dec. Tickets for usual outlets.

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