Barenaked Ladies

Reprise Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Pop music, fundamentally, can go one of two directions. It can be basic and straightforward, or it can have a slight tinge of cleverness to it, a soup-con of side jokes and catchy hooks. Clever bands can be annoying, or they can be some of the most delightful, accessible music available. For all their self-aware cleverness, Barenaked Ladies falls into the second category.

Since the days of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Gordon when Barenaked Ladies sang the slightly twisted pop ditty "Be My Yoko Ono," the band has been an engaging mix of rock, folk, jazz, pop, and weird. On the down side, their American success has been small, despite radio airplay for the single "Jane" off Maybe You Should Drive. A loyal fan base (in fact, so loyal that they are willing to throw Kraft Dinner on the stage during Barenaked Ladies' concerts) has brought them some success...and their latest and newest CD, Stunt, is finally bringing them major success, including a Billboard Top Ten and VH-1 airplay.

Stunt hits the ground running with the infectious "One Week," continuing the Barenaked Ladies tradition of complex, bizarre lyrics. The song includes mentions of wasabi, Leann Rimes, the X-Files, Harrison Ford, Sting, and Kurosawa. "One Week" shows some influence from Blues Traveler, with its rapid-fire lyrical delivery and jangling guitar, but Barenaked Ladies is more than just another white-boys-with-harmonicas BT clone.

Stunt also includes straight-ahead rock ("It's All Been Done"), love ballads ("Call And Answer"), galloping country-rock ("Never Is Enough"), and a touching song for a new child ("When You Dream"). The music is crisp and well-produced; the loss of keyboardist Andrew Creegan is aptly handled with the addition of tour keyboardist Kevin Hearn without noticeable loss. There are no weak tracks on this album, and the sheer amusement of a CD with lyrics like "The world's your oyster shell / but what's that funny smell / you eat the bivalve anyway / you're sick with salmonella / You get your Ph.D / How happy you will be / When you get a job at Wendy's / And are honoured with Employee Of The Month" ("Never Is Enough," Page/Robertson) makes this a definite must-have for anyone with a fondness for clever, well-constructed pop.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A



© 1998 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.