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Music Review: Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked Ladies Are Me Deluxe Edition

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Barenaked Ladies recorded and mixed 29 songs over the last year. Thirteen were chosen to be on the main album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, which was released on September 12. Fourteen others will be available through various special editions of that album when downloaded, as well as its own CD, Barenaked Ladies Are Men, which will be available early next year.

There were two bonus songs available if you pre-ordered, which I sadly did incorrectly and didn’t get. They are “What a Letdown” and “Why Say Anything Nice.” I already reviewed the first disc of this deluxe edition. What follows is a look at the second disc.

Keyboardist Kevin Hearn opens up the second half of the deluxe edition with "Serendipity." The bassline of this mid-tempo indie song is almost a fifties-style walk. It also really shows off his vocal range. Though it probably wouldn't make my top ten list of BNL songs, it's not bad.

“Something You’ll Never Find,” sung by Steven Page, can be summed up in two words — fricken’ marathon. This song goes nearly non-stop lyrically and is high energy musically, especially for poor Tyler on the drums. My favorite lyrics from this track are, "Over in Indiana/ Wearing their red bandanas/ Indians eat bananas/ Thinking they're full of Vitamin C." It makes me giggle. The song also flows very well from verse to chorus and back again.

Next up it's Ed’s turn to sing on “One and Only.” The fact they have three different confident singers in three songs goes to show Barenaked Ladies has a vocal diversity similar to the Beach Boys. Unlike most bands with one singer, and one, maybe two songwriters, Barenaked Ladies have four members who participate in songwriting and take their turns at the microphone.

“Angry People” is the happiest song ever written, not lyrically, but instrumentally. You also get a choir-like background vocal over the chorus just making it seem all the more upbeat. The lyrics describe angry people and how they can make those around them miserable. The song fits right into the BNL trademark of a hypocrisy-fueled musical combination fans love.

“Down To Earth” starts off with a heavily distorted 1-2-3 guitar intro — you know the type — it lets you know this song is going to rock. Then to make it even better, Ed Robertson's lyrics are the kind you can over-analyze, trying to decipher a hundred different metaphorical meanings — none of which are probably what he was thinking while writing the song.

“Beautiful” is a "what if" song, questioning the influence beauty has on people. This song has a great vocally-layered chorus that makes you want to sing each part — even though it is impossible to sing all three at once. At only two minutes 35 seconds, it's the shortest song on the album, but one of my favorites.

“Running Out of Ink” is one of Steven Page’s greatest vocal triumphs since “Break Your Heart.” It is also extremely entertaining, lyrically and instrumentally, making it quite possibly the best from the deluxe CD. It also has a bridge, which moves from the uptempo pop melody to something almost like orchestration and then back again. It is something rarely pulled off by other bands, but BNL does it very well. Another great bridge is in “Half a Heart” — actually, it is quite possibly the best part of this song. And it may even be one of BNL’s better bridges ever. This song also has some cool stuff going on in the background musically, especially in how the synthesizer and guitar complement each other.

“Maybe Not” is one of those songs that feels sad but has funny lyrics. It makes the listener feel confused. Which mood is the most appropriate to be in while listening to it? It's about breaking up, which isn't funny at all, but it's so goofy you can't help smiling. Also, I like the hand claps. It's about time for '80s hand claps to return to music. They have been gone far too long and I have been adding them to every song I listen to for ages now.

‘I Can, I Will, I Do” is Steven Page on helium. He is able to sing the entire song at a higher pitch than he typically sings, which makes me jealous.  I cannot sustain a higher pitch, let alone stay in tune at that pitch for more than about four bars. I guess that’s why he’s the professional.

“Fun and Games” is the heavily political song fans who read the BNL Blog have seen coming. What is truly amazing about it is they deliver their very strong political beliefs in such a way you want to sing along – even if you disagree with them. It also has another example of their great bridges I talked about earlier.

“The New Sad” is a song that reminds me of something off of Steven Page’s solo album, Vanity Project. The focal point is the vocals, and it's rather simple in construction. Though it is in the background, this song features some of my favorite guitar work on the whole album and it also blends well with the keyboard.

“Quality” reminds me of “Celebrity” from their album Everything to Everyone. Many of the lyrics just leave me baffled though, such as “Look at them now, they're rubbing my cow there, And feeding it beer.” Huh? What is that all about?

Kevin opened this set of songs, and he also gets to close it with "Another Spin." This is truly the best of him. It is slightly rock, slightly pop, and extremely entertaining. It even has cowbell! It is one of my favorite songs he has written, and there could be no better way to close out the album.

I didn't warm up to Barenaked Ladies Are Men as quickly as the first half of the deluxe album, but I find myself listening to it more frequently now. It is made up of the extremes left off the first half — the higher energy songs, and the lower energy ones. Barenaked Ladies Are Me is the middle ground of the 29 songs.

This article is part of the featured artist of the month. Please check out a review of Barenaked Ladies Are Me, a band Bio, and a look into Barenaked Ladies videos.

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About Josh Phillips

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

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  • Steph

    The lyric “Look at them now, they’re rubbing my cow there, And feeding it beer” is a reference to Kobe beef from Japan. The cows get regular massages and are fed beer to make them tender… Kinda weird, but I thought you might be interested. Great review by the way!

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