Lonely Avenue

Bob Dylan wrote most of Desire with a playwright, but collaborations between musicians and literary figures are usually pretty painful. This one isn't without promise: Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity is a music-geek classic, and Ben Folds is great at turning wordy lyrics into crafty pop. But 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). Folds doesn't do a bad job shaping Hornby's clunky song prose, but even Dylan couldn't do much with "Hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease/Hope comes near you/Kick its backside."