Barenaked Ladies tread water on latest release

The Barenaked Ladies’ latest album, Maroon, brings together the whimsical and the gloomy. This forms the manic-depressive style that the Ladies are famous for. This style, however, comes off dry by this, their fifth album. While Maroon is consistent with the band’s signature style, it lacks innovation.

The singles Pinch Me and Falling For The First Time save the album from drowning immediately. In general though, each track blends into the next without leaving much of an impression on the listener.

The sharp lyrics of the faster tracks are a mix of deep meaning and nonsense that are either clever or corny – it is hard to tell which. The slower songs on the album contradict the album’s tempo of quick wit and sarcasm. The last song on Maroon, Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel, features circus tunes in the background. Mellow vocals and disturbing-yet-oddly-entertaining lyrics describe an accident scene. After listening to it for the third of forth time, one is still hard-pressed to determine whether the song is brilliant or just plain ridiculous.

Similarly, Sell, Sell, Sell, combines an angelic and euphoric melody with lyrics about show business that are downright bizarre. The sing-song style is both soothing and annoying.

The highlight of the album is the bonus track Hidden Sun. It is a slower song with tamer vocals. It offers a much-needed break from the eccentricity of the album’s tracks. One can take only so much of band member Steven Page’s hyper-activity.

Hidden Sun surpasses the other songs on Maroon with its simplicity. The background of the song is only piano, drums and light backup vocals, giving it a calm and pleasant sound. Neither overbearing nor dull, the song falls perfectly in the middle.

All in all, the Barenaked Ladies have churned out a decent album, but failed to produce anything refreshing. Nevertheless, there is just enough flair and charisma left in them to keep Maroon from getting tossed overboard.

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