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Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked Ladies Are Men

Barenaked Ladies, Are Men

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

LESS than six months after Canadian pop/rockers Barenaked Ladies released their Barenaked Ladies Are Me album, they return with another 16 songs in the form of the infectious Barenaked Ladies Are Men.

Famed for their goofiness in songs such as One Week (their biggest hit to date), Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, Steven Page and co here serve notice that the band does have a serious side as many of the songs on this long-player are more straightforward, but no less pleasing.

The easygoing standard is set from the outset with album highlight Serendipity, a shimmering piece of songwriting that owes more to the warm, breezy style of Fountains of Wayne than the kookiness of One Week. Robertson’s vocals are nicely laidback and the song is brimming with chirpy melodies, making it an excellent introduction.

Something You’ll Never Find is a rockier effort, fuelled by some whimsical lyrics (“looking for something you’ll never find”) and a nice collision of guitars and keyboards that are dripping in effervescent pop melody.

While One And Only showcases a slower, more sincere style of songwriting that’s equally noteworthy – the chorus, especially, washes over you nicely.

It’s only when you get to Angry People that the signature kookiness appears for the first time – an ironic look at the state of the world and its angry people that couldn’t be less happy if it tried, courtesy of the horns and Randy Newman style.

But it’s a feature of the album that it manages to change tempo consistently without ever reducing the overall quality. Barenaked Ladies Are Men is therefore an assured collection of work that could even expand the band’s popularity.

Further highlights include the harmonious Down To Earth, which contains one of the catchiest choruses on the album, and the jazzy, piano-laden Beautiful, an utterly enchanting piece of songwriting that’s achingly romantic without being overly drippy. (Valentine tip: try playing this to the woman you love and her heart might melt).

Half A Heart is another strong offering, hinting at a more folk-driven influence, and there’s a Curtis Mayfield vocal style surrounding the keyboards and shuffling beats of the soulful I Can I Will I Do.

The marching band-style drum beats that accompany the start of Fun And Games signal the band at their most political, inserting some hard-hitting lyrics about overseas wars over more strong melodies and a completely loopy middle-section where the song veers into big band territory – almost as a cheeky metaphor for the escalating events in countries such as Iraq.

And finally, Another Spin draws the album to a close in slightly more feisty style – the guitars a little punchier but accompanied by Beach Boys-style vocal melodies and some excellent lyrics.

In short, then, Barenaked Ladies Are Men is a great listen. It has plenty to keep you occupied and suits any number of moods. It’s romantic, political, amusing and thought-provoking but – above all – fun.

Download picks: Serendipity, One & Only, Down To Earth, Beautiful, Half A Heart, Fun And Games

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Track listing:

  1. Serendipity
  2. Something You’ll Never Find
  3. One And Only
  4. Angry People
  5. Down To Earth
  6. Beautiful
  7. Running Out Of Ink
  8. Half A Heart
  9. Maybe Not
  10. I Can I Will I Do
  11. Fun And Games
  12. New Sad
  13. Quality
  14. Another Spin
  15. What A Letdown
  16. Why Say Anything Nice

  1. I would listen to Beautiful again: I would say that it is much more about the danger in falling for what is beautiful on the outside but depressingly empty inside.

    Jared Blackstone    Feb 18    #