When last we heard from our boys au naturale, they had put together a solid, eventual two-disc set that was both emotive and frolicking. With humourous bits on “… Are Me” such as “Bank Job” and “Bull in a China Shop,” and with such whimiscal, fanciful songs as “Everything had Changed,” we were treated to some fantastic music by a great band.
Then we were treated to an entire new CD in “… Are Men.” Kevin Hearn took the lead with “Serendipity” and “Another Spin,” while Steven page and Ed Robertson took the reigns on pretty much everything else.
In 2009, Steve and the band parted ways. Many among the faithful shuddered in fear for what the future of the band would hold.
Barenaked Ladies are back. To the faithful who endured the wait, wondering with baited breath what would become of the band, the payoff is … well, it’s fan-frickin’-tastic.
Fare thee well, Steven Page. We will miss you.
For the rest of us, please join me in ushering the new era and welcoming the revamped band to the limelight, which they richly deserve.
In Steve’s absence, Jim Creeggan and Kevin Hearn have stepped up to the plate with a force that I really think few doubted. Jim has two tracks and Kevin has 3 on the new, non-bonus track CD. If you’re one of the few who can find the bonus track disc, you’ll be treated to 1 additional track from each Jim and Kevin.
See my earlier post regarding Kevin and Jim’s side project material. If you have any doubt that they have earned their right to pen at least a couple of Ladies tracks, please find a way to (legally) acquire their material. You won’t regret it.
Now for the CD review …
I could be wrong about this (but I’m probably not), but I’m willing to stake a dinner at Flemings for the entire band that the opening track, “You Run Away,” is a graceful tribute to the departure of Steve. Emotionally charged with lyrics like, “You turn and run away from me. I’ll give you something to cry about. One thing you should try out: hold a mirror shoulder high, when you’re older, look you in the eye.”
To say that it is blatently transparent is akin to saying something like “an elephant is large and gray.” You can actually hear the pain in Ed’s voice as he laments the loss of his long-time band mate and friend. Tremulous and shaky at times, traumatic and tortured, the band gives us a brief glimpse into the hell the band went through.
As the CD progresses, it’s evident that the band went to great lengths to maintain an air of familiarity so as not to alienate its original fan base, but at the same time they have taken on the daunting challenge of making a CD that’s different than anything they’ve done previously. With tracks like “Summertime” that has a rather heavy guitar riff (well, okay … heavy for them), though complimented with synth and keyboards from Kevin that help guide the fan back the the comfort of the old while experimenting with the new. Jim and Tyler provide some really fantastic back-up vocals. “So bundle up and hunker down. Here it comes again, just one more round. See you on the other side. Mercury falls, so how do we make it through the days? How do we not give in and bottom out? well you have to understand that soon enough you’ll wake up from such a daze thanks to all the many ways we’re all pushing through for summertime.”
Track 3 is Kevin’s first song: “Another Heartbreak.” There’s something about his voice that is just so … different. Airy and light, moody and soothing, he navigates his way through they lyrics. “Now here you stand in front of me in all your complexity that I’ve mistaken for simplicty.” Again with the heavier guitars, but this time they’re in the background as Kevin pounds away on the keyboard.
“Four Seconds” is like nothing they’ve ever done. It kind of reminds me of a creepy mix of “One Week” and “For You.” I can’t even keep up with the lyrics. “I’ve been away for years and a day. You’d be thinking I’d be lonely, but I’m not here to stay. Wouldn’t have it any other way.” The best part of this song is the prominent vocals of none other than Tyler Stewart. What a rare treat. “One Missississippi, two Missississippi, three Missississippi, Foooouurr …”
They played this song at their show at The Depot back in December. I remember thinking at the time that I couldn’t wait to hear it on the CD. That has not changed one bit. It’s just so funky. And DIFFERENT. This one has radio potential written all over it. It’s short, too: less than 3 minutes.
Jim gets the nod on track 5, “On the Lookout.” I love how this kind of has a 70s vibe to it. The use of strings completely makes the song. The other 3 band members take point on harmonizing. “This all will pass, just like us. Just like this thought. Don’t miss this; we’ve only got one shot.”
Like always, I don’t want to go through and review the entire CD. I just want to give you an idea of what you can expect when you play this for yourself. My personal opinion is that, if you like BNL in the past, this CD will amaze you. If you haven’t liked BNL in the past, well … I can’t help you there. This CD, on the other hand, can and will.