Barenaked Ladies Barenaked Ladies Are Me

Barenaked Ladies Barenaked Ladies Are Me

2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5

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Over their 15-year-plus career, beloved Canadian pop exports Barenaked Ladies have served as a goofy Greek chorus for those who like a smidge of substance with their gorgeous harmonies, deftly fusing sardonic wit and trenchant observations about life and love in a series of, at the time, criminally overlooked albums.

Everything changed in 1998, when “One Week,” a track catchier than avian flu, made Stunt a staggering smash hit, and rather than play along with expectations, Barenaked Ladies followed the sunny Stunt with their fifth and best record, 2000’s Maroon. Likely confounding those expecting a virtual sequel to the previous record, Barenaked Ladies produced one modest hit, “Pinch Me,” and explored gloomier territory than on previous outings, rendering signature cascading melodies in a distinctly twilit hue. Slinky single “Another Postcard” notwithstanding, 2003’s Everything To Everyone better balanced the sextet’s light and dark tendencies but sprawled over too many tracks; despite fairly regular touring, there seemed to be an unfortunate symmetry to the Ladies’ career—settling comfortably back into the semi-obscurity from which they’d briefly escaped, there wasn’t any reason to suspect that another mega-hit album was in the offing.

Barenaked Ladies Are Me is many things, but a surefire home run it isn’t. Wrapping themselves in the cloak of maturity, the Ladies are billing this as their “most melodic and accessible album since Stunt,” which smacks more of desperate marketing than accurately reflecting the quality of this release. Perhaps what renders this effort so diffuse, blasé, and inert is that the band opened up the songwriting process, resulting in only eight exclusively Page/Robertson compositions out of 13 tracks. Democracy and creativity don’t always mesh well; lead single “Easy” is lightweight enough, but the best cuts, “Home” and “Bull in a China Shop,” don’t have any other members’ fingerprints on ‘em, leaving one to wonder whether inviting others into the writing room was the best idea. Sure, it keeps the band fresh and engaged in the recording, but it also guarantees that only the die-hards will seek out this disc. Barenaked Ladies Are Me isn’t the worst album the band has ever released, but it certainly doesn’t inspire repeated spins, which might be the most damning criticism you could level at these Ladies.

Release Date
September 12, 2006
Label
Nettwerk
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