I Am John's Stomach Pains.

On The Precipice of Mediocrity, Teetering

Friday, September 15, 2006

Barenaked Ladies Are Me(andering)  

Three years ago, I put up my thoughts on BNL's album Everything To Everyone, and since then I've yet to put a similar review up of a CD, track-by-track. Well, since BNL came out with a new album this week, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, I thought I'd do it again, now that I've listened to it a half dozen times or so. As you can take from the blog title, I was less than impressed... here goes.

1) Adrift - Immediately, I start getting worried with the album, which they start with a song that could put me to sleep. I thought Celebrity was slow on the last album, but this "prologue" really doesn't catch the listener. As always, the harmonizing of the band is one of it's strengths, and it's present here, plus the lyrics are pretty poetic, but damn, this is a CD-ender, not a starter. 4/10

2) Bank Job - Yay! My worries start dissipating, as a truly BNL song arrives, and it's the best song on the album. In an album with not many single-worthy tracks, this is the only one I think has a chance of getting noticed. Very reminiscent of Fell Asleep At The Wheel, if you were a fan of that one, but it's not a perfect song... the keyboards are slightly annoying at times, but other than that, a fun BNL song... but be wary... this is one of the few ones. 9/10

3) Sound of Your Voice
- This took me a few listens, but it's definitely grown on me. My favorite Steve-led songs are the upbeat ones, it's what he excels at, and he can make a song that might look trite on paper into a gem. This song has a great hook, and it's gotten stuck in my head as I fall asleep already. It's also one of the few songs that use the full band to it's advantage. Kevin's keyboards are fun, and Tyler & Jim's (I think) back-up vocals are fun and complimentary. 9/10

4) Easy - At first, I thought this song was a cover, it sounded familiar. Turns out, I think it's just generic. The song isn't bad, per se, it's just blah. Not to be ironic, but this song is just too easy. In fact, looking at the album, all the songs which Kevin composed on just aren't "BNL songs"... and this is a complaint I have for the entire album, which I'll get to at the end. 6/10

5) Home - You know how I said Steve's strength is in the upbeat songs? Yeah, that also means the songs that don't do anything for me from him are the soft-ballad songs that have twingy-guitars. I'm sure this song could be cool live, as a set break, mostly because Page's voice is just damn impressive live, but this is the second song that can put one to sleep. 3/10

6) Bull in a China Shop
- And then they pull me back in! Jeezus, this album is schizophrenic! This is classic BNL lyrics, great back-up music (that admittedly, I think could be a bit stronger), and the inclusion of horns is an interesting addition that BNL rarely has. Works for them. I think one of the problems I have with the song though, and this is just me, is that they missed out on including Ed with Steve... seems as if it would have been one where their duets coulda shone. 8/10

7) Everything Had Changed
- The first of two songs composed by Jim, and I actually like this one. Creegan's bass is one of the many things that make BNL such a unique band, and while this song is nowhere near a classic, it's enjoyable. Still, you get a sense of filler that is never a good thing. 6/10

8) Peterborough and the Kawarthas
- Heh, where to start... this is the second Jim song, and the one where he sings on... which if this was a Brothers Creegan album, wouldn't be a bad thing. The song actually has an interesting hook, and Jim's voice delivers the words well. But damn, this is not a Barenaked Ladies song. Thankfully, it's a short song, which again, filler. This track coulda been a hidden track and I would liked it much more, but smack in the middle of an already average album? 5/10

9) Maybe You're Right
- The soft voice from Steve is balanced well with the harmonizing and music, delivering a song that I originally had reservations about, but then I came to really like. The lyrics are strong, with only the chorus not really delivering the one-two punch of a great song. Good progression throughout though... this song builds slow to a crescendo in a smooth way... but then falls slightly with the inclusion of the horns I like a few songs ago. Oh well, listenable. 7/10

10) Take It Back
- A strange transition since the previous song's chorus had "take it back" included. Oh well. This is a song that kinda flipflopped for me... I originally thought I liked it, but the more I listened, the long A's from Ed begins to grate (taaaaaaake), and at times, it seems like it's extended on the wrong A. Steve can deliver the long-A well with his voice, but Ed seems to to make the artistic decision to speak the A instead of singing it, which just doesn't work for me. Not horrible, and not one I'll skip, but more annoyed because I can sense greatest in the song that doesn't deliver. 6/10

11) Vanishing
- *sigh* Another filler song, this one sung by Kevin Hearn. Again, the song isn't bad, in fact, it's enjoyable, but it's not a BNL song. Kevin has a unique voice that I'm sure some people like, but in a band with two lead singers, adding more to the mix produces an album that feels more like a soundtrack/mixtape than a band with ten albums released. 5/10

12) Rule The World with Love - I've been complaining about the lack of BNL-worthy songs... and this one goes the other direction, in that I feel it's trying too hard, and coming up short. Hard to explain, but I just don't like this song, more because I feel I'm supposed to, and the lyrics are too easy for a band that can do much better. 2/10

13) Wind It Up
- What a strange way to end the album... but in retrospect, it's indicative of my problems. This song is sort've a mashup of Lynard Skynard and... I don't know, Devo. As an experiment, I suppose it works, but again, the album order hurts it. If this would've opened the album, I think I might've enjoyed it, but as an ender, I've become so mixed up with different types of music, I'm tired of it. Especially as this the closest duet-like song from Steve and Ed... the biggest strength of the band is never addressed and is wasted on a mediocre song. 5/10

So as you can tell from the scores, I was pretty let down by this album, even if there were some bright spots. After waiting 3 years since E2E (ignoring the Christmas album), this hurts as such a big fan. The problem is one that I'm sure all bands face, and that they are trying to "grow up". After Testing 1, 2, 3 from the last album, and the Peepshow tour, it was pretty clear Ed had decided he was through with being the fast-rapping white guy. I suppose I can understand where he's coming from, but that was one of the first things that attracted me to the band. I fell in love with Barenaked Ladies because of their songs... their Barenaked-Ladies-take on how to approach song-writing, and performances... as a cover-fan, their concerts always had a treat, be it a Prince cover, a powerful musical homage, or their patented Medley rap.

Now, it seems as if the joy is gone. They've decided to be the soft-rock version of a Barry Manilow album. Like I said, I have no problem with artists spreading their wings, trying new things. But the fact is, you've gotta remember the girl you brought to the dance. My fear is that they're going to alienate alot of their fans with this album. I have a feeling that the popular failure of E2E and Another Postcard hurt the band more than we as fans realized... I'm amazed that album didn't do better, as it was one of the best they ever produced.

Oh well, here's hoping the B.L.A.M. tour (which I should be seeing in the end of November, if I can get good tickets) dispels any problems I have. Their next album may just have to be a sequel to the live album, Rock Spectacle. Something to get back into the good graces of the fans.

At least this fan.

posted by Holz | 11:43 AM | Rant & Rave, Bitches! (5)

5 Comments:

You know what? Since their live album(rock spectacle?), I think each album has become a slow decline of the band. It took me a fair amount of time to get into Stunt, and even more to get into Maroon. Then E2E took me the most time. IMO, they started falling into the rut of 3 good songs per album and the rest filler. Typically, if I have to listen to an album a bunch of times before I like it, I deem it no good, but I love BNL so I gave them all a shot and learned to like the newer albums. Maybe I was spoiled by their live album having so many good hits. It just seemed like the newer stuff was less of them having fun and messing around, which IMO was their strong point, and more of them getting serious. I'll download this one for $2 instead of buying the disc for much mroe. Thanks for the heads up. I honestly didn't even know they had a enw album out.

By Blogger Stan, at 9/18/2006 4:30 AM  


Pshhh... women.

They start off looking great and just go to total crap.

Heh, except mine.

By Blogger Kamin, at 9/18/2006 6:19 AM  


I'm not sure you understand Kamin. You should do a google search for "bare naked ladies" so you can better educate yourself. Oh and make sure you do it at work. ;)

By Blogger Stan, at 9/18/2006 10:09 AM  


Sure thing Stan. While I do that, why don't you do some research on the Black C*ck Helicopter?!?!

By Blogger Kamin, at 9/19/2006 11:17 AM  


That thing was HUGE!

By Blogger Stan, at 9/20/2006 4:05 AM  


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Wesley and Angel, Angel: After The Fall #15



Who Am I?
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Home: Sonoma County, California
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"Let a man get away with fuckin' you once, you stay bent over so's he can fuck you again whenever he damn well pleases. An' if one man can do it? Another will too. An' another, an' another still. So's being fucked, that's yer life. 'Til who you were, you ain't. 'Cause all you are is an asshole."
100 Bullets #42