Grinning Streak

Barenaked Ladies

Raisin’ Records/Vanguard Records, 2014

http://bnlmusic.com

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/16/2014

Twenty-one years after the release of their smash debut Gordon, the Barenaked Ladies came back in 2013 with their twelfth studio album (counting their holiday and children’s records) and unfortunately, it wasn’t even close to being the best collection of songs they’ve could released.

The opening track, “Limits” is an interesting enough song with some electro inspired beats and loops behind it. It feels at this stage in the game that the band is experimenting with different types of music, trying to play around with something that will get them back in the charts. All this seems unwise considering the band has been around for so long consistently doing the music they know and are familiar with. The first single, “Boomerang” is consistent with their most recent material and would sound right at home blaring out of the speakers at Kohl’s or J.C. Penney. The song is catchy enough but it just feels like it’s missing something important.

“Off His Head” is written for the children, but it just sounds very forced and out of place. “Gonna Walk” doesn’t sound as great in the studio, though it should be one of those tracks which would work very well live.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Continuing in this vein, “Odds Are” just kind of struggles along without meaning or direction. For the majority of the record, guitarist Ed Robertson takes over lead vocals, which should work great as it has in the past, but the band needs something to change things up. That’s one of the reasons why their previous record, 2010’s All In Good Time, worked: because Ed, keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bassist Jim Creegan sang lead on various tracks. Ed’s vocals are good, but this is a band that is known for switching singers on almost every other album track.

“Keepin’ It Real” comes across like a weak They Might Be Giants song, just not as funny or clever as it should be. From here on, with two major exceptions, the album basically descends into the mundane and uninteresting. “Give It Back To You” is one of those worthless songs that feels lifeless and limp. But it’s not even the worst song here: the (dis)honor goes to “Best Damn Friend,” which is officially the most useless BNL song since 2003’s “Another Postcard.” Nothing on this track works and it comes across as very desperate and totally lifeless. Such a sad state of affairs for this once great band.

The biggest sore thumb on the record is “Did I Say That Out Loud?” which would’ve worked best on their children’s record. It just seems it has no real place on this record and the very lame lyrics do absolutely nothing to save it. Trying not to sound like a total buzzkill, there is one rather decent track. Like the previous record, it comes courtesy of Kevin Hearn. “Daydreamin’” is an excellent pop song on par with tracks like “Call And Answer” and “Break Your Heart.” It’s the type of song that this album really, really needed in order to save it from being completely and utterly forgettable.

By this point, if every other track had been as memorable as “Daydreamin’,” it would be a passable product but unfortunately, “Smile” is a very decent but simply passable song that really has no effect on saving anything. The closer, the almost seven minute “Crawl” is decent enough but it really does nothing to rescue the album from the mediocrity it was created from.

If the Barenaked Ladies wants to save themselves from touring the same worn out circuit as Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Everclear, they need to go back to the drawing board and get back to their roots. It’s the only way!

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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