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Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies Are Men

(Desperation; US: 6 Feb 2007; UK: 12 Feb 2007)

Barenaked Ladies Are Men, apparently. More appropriately, perhaps, might be Barenaked Ladies Are Still Around. But seeing as the title’s a typical BNL witticism—the disc consists of 16 songs recorded at the same time as the band’s last release, Barenaked Ladies Are Me—there’s nothing to be surprised about. In fact, all of these songs were previously available as a digital-only deluxe edition of that disc, making it especially apparent that this is a fan-directed affair. Let’s not kid, if you’re Barenaked Ladies, that’s probably your only option at this point. It’s sad, in a way… post-15 minutes, hacks all sound the same. So we get the same low-level wit, saying “happy is the new sad” on a sad-sounding song, and the same MOR rock. I guess those fans who are still turning out to the band’s shows love it, the early ‘90s pop guitars and the nasal voice. On their more laid-back tracks, the jazz percussion hits somewhere between Jamie Cullum and James Blunt; upbeat, they never match Weezer for fun-filled geek rock. You realise, as on “Something You’ll Never Find”, how close the band have always been to an annoyance, this strong streak of facetiousness (“Down in Indiana, Indians eat bananas / Thinking they’re full of Vitamin C”). In the end, BNL may be closest to a description that comes on “Fun & Games”—“It was a gag / It was all for a laugh”—and as such, not asking too much more of us.

Rating:

Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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