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Barenaked Ladies Are Me Enhanced
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Barenaked Ladies the little indie band that could have returned to self-rule with their own label, Desperation Records, and their most cohesive album since the quadruple-platinum Stunt. Barenaked Ladies Are Me still exudes the band's sense of fun while musically and lyrically demonstrating a maturity you'd expect from guys who have played together forever. With one of rock's most devoted fanbases, Barenaked Ladies goes D.I.Y. with Barenaked Ladies Are Me.
15+ years after their winsome indie debut, Canada's Barenaked Ladies come full circle here, dropping off the major label merry-go-round to re-embrace a DYI sensibility with typically breezy aplomb. But, as this collection's strong songs and crisp production attest, that hardly means the band didn't learn a thing or three during its successful tenure in the majors. The gorgeous melancholy of "Adrift" is apt preamble to a collection that's more thematically balanced and graced by an expansive sense of artistic democracy. While mainstays Steven Page and Ed Robertson contribute such patently torqued, BNL-mirthful fare as "Bank Job," "Bull in a China Shop," "Rule the World With Love" and "Wind It Up," there's a growing maturity and sense of reflection in their work as well, as evidenced by Page confessing his own emotional disconnection via the evocative, banjo-accordion lament "Everything Had Changed." But it's the strong, equally literate contributions of fellow band members Jim Creeggan ("Peterborough & the Kawathas") and Kevin Hearn ("Sound of Your Voice," "Vanishing") that truly expand BNL's horizons at a career juncture when many bands are all too happy to rest on their laurels or hew religiously to the formula that garnered them. --Jerry McCulley
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Top Customer Reviews
Apparently all the band members were involved in song writing more so than in the past and it shows. Kevin Hearn's uniquely whimsical and gentle style is evident in Vanishing while Jim Creeggan's jazzy style shows through in Peterborough and the Kawarthas, both songs sung by Kevin and Jim respectfully. Previously Steve and Ed did the majority of lead vocals so this is a real treat hearing the other band members take the lead.
The album is solid all the way through. The opening song Adrift takes on a country twist. Maybe You're Right encompasses all that is BNL with emotional lyrics, a sweeping chorus and gorgeous harmonies, and Wind it Up which features a solo by Kim Mitchell closes the album with a kick! No matter what your musical preference is, Barenaked Ladies Are Me is sure to please!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Think: "Too Little Too Late," "The Humor of the Situation," "Go Home" and "Humor of the Situation." Now imagine it tighter. With much more elaborate arrangements (seriously, they didn't even use this many instruments on Gordon--there were times when I was wondering whether I was listening to BNL or Sufjan Stevens).
The lyrics are classic BNL (with "Bank Job" on par with "Another Postcard"--it's a good song when you don't hear it 20 times a day--in terms of off-beat humor). I've been told this album was more of a collaborative writing effort. I'll take my source's word for it.
Highlights: "Easy" and "Wind it Up" (from the EP), "Maybe You're Right" and "Bull in a China Shop."
Also of note: Kevin Hearn gets to sing! I know of no other time I've heard his voice except "Hidden Sun" (again, on Maroon).
Set on surmounting the novelty band stigma, the Ladies toned down their customary quirkiness a bit on their next two albums--Maroon (2000) and Everything to Everyone (2003). However, Reprise sought to capitalize on more rapid-rhyming singles, releasing "Pinch Me" and "Another Postcard" as lead singles for the albums. "Pinch Me" reached #15 on the Hot 100 and Maroon went platinum, but the downright inane "Another Postcard" received little airplay, and Everything to Everyone sold poorly. Disappointed with Reprise's promotional support (or lack thereof), the band left their long-time label in 2004 to form Desperation Records.
The common critical assessment of the band's new album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, is that it's BNL's first "mature" album. Although such an assessment shows some critics' relative ignorance of Barenaked Ladies' entire work as well as an apparent forgetfulness of their own work (many writers hailed Maroon and Everything to Everyone as the band's "mature" albums), it's fair to say that a serious tone pervades the album. On songs like the acoustic-driven first single, "Easy," and the buoyant, sing-along-inducing "Bull in a China Shop," long-time songwriting partners Steven Page and Ed Roberston explore the familiar BNL themes of self-doubt and relationship complexities. Elsewhere the duo sharpen the political commentary that emerged on Everything to Everyone. The strongest of the politically-minded tracks (and perhaps the strongest song on the entire album) is "Maybe You're Right," which builds from sparse instrumentation to a resounding brass-filled finale. The album isn't devoid of BNL's trademark humor, though. On "Bank Job," a quirky waltz that could be the premise for a Cohen brothers' film, Robertson sings of a heist stymied by one of the robber's "crisis of conscience" when the bank is full of nuns. And, on "Wind It Up," the album's southern-rock closer, Robertson delivers possibly the funniest line of the album: "I was a baby when I learned to suck/But you have raised it to an art form."
Keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bassist Jim Creeggan also contribute some songwriting, with Hearn penning the Queen-esque "Sound of Your Voice" (sung by Page) and "Vanishing," and Creeggan providing "Peterborough and the Kawarthas." Hearn's songwriting contributions, including two other tracks on the deluxe edition, are his most prolific with the band, but his soft, colorless vocals are an acquired taste.
Despite many fans welcoming the band's continuing departure from fallacious ditties (No songs about postcards with chimps? Hallelujah!), some prefer early-era BNL (Gordon to be specific) and will no doubt be disappointed with the scarcity of BNL's customary hyperactivity. Of the thirteen tracks, only a handful could really be considered "peppy." Given that the band had written plenty of uptemo songs during the recording sessions--songs like "Running Out of Ink," "Down to Earth," and "Maybe Not," all of which are available on the deluxe edition of the album--one has to assume BNL consciously pursued a mellow vibe. The album doesn't really hit toe-tapping territory until the third song, "Sound of Your Voice," and two songs--the opening track "Adrift" and "Vanishing--are peaceful to the point of being downright somniferous.
Even though the album could use the jolt a song like "Running Out of Ink" would provide, the bulk of the material is by no means dull. The music is the sound of five guys who clearly enjoy the new-found freedom of making music on their own terms. BNL's greatest strength has always been their songwriting, and the album shows Page, Robertson, and Co. returning to form after the uneven Everything to Everyone. Barenaked Ladies Are Me not only surpasses its predecessor but also stands among the best work of the band's career.