Entertainment
Barenaked Ladies Are Me
(Desperation)

Spun: Barenaked Ladies

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The Barenaked Ladies have always walked a tightrope between the sophomoric and the serious, and for most of their career, they've managed to retain their balance remarkably well. But on Barenaked Ladies are Me, their seventh album, their position becomes a lot more precarious. Lyrically and musically, the band severely tests their balance with songs pointing in shaky new directions.

The song "Bank Job" is a good example of this tendency. There's no way in hell the Ladies can sound menacing, though they try to do exactly that here, assuming the perspective of a bank robber. "Everything had Changed," meanwhile, is inexplicably accompanied by both accordion and banjo, making the song come off like a jam session between a musician on a Venetian gondola and an Appalachian hillbilly. The resulting cacophony distracts from the song's lyrics, which aren't particularly captivating anyway.

Barenaked Ladies are Me contains a few bright spots. Among them are the poignant, Simon and Garfunkel-like "Vanishing," which reveals keyboardist Kevin Hearn's surprisingly strong voice, and "Rule the World With Love," a consciously sugar-pop confection which captures the whimsy of the band's past hits. These songs save the band from an unsightly tumble to the ground, but only because they're hanging on to the credibility they still retain as though their careers depended on it. Funny how that is.

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