September 28, 2006

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Barenaked Ladies, Barenaked Ladies Are Me
Desperation Records/Warner Canada, 2006

The rumors are true about the members of Canada’s biggest musical cash crop growing up; perhaps not what their deepest worshippers want to hear but an interesting study nonetheless. Initial single “Easy” was released on their MySpace page in the unique form of 16 parallel tracks that allow fans to play studio engineer and compete in a contest, though it’ll be hard to top the album mix, which uses a throwaway Phish guitar line as drone for mountainous layers of choral and ringout ecstasy. Do brace yourself for a complete lack of “Old Apartment” bwaa-daas: the record begins delicately with “Adrift,” a banjo/Ovation-driven meeting of Death Cab and Bela Fleck, followed by their first sitcom moment in “Bank Job,” a Sufjan Stevens-soundalike about a robbery gone horribly awry when it turns out the place is full of nuns. It’s not until the third track that the Strats come out and Steven Page finds his Marvin Martian wail (the Warren Zevon-ish “Sound of Your Voice”), and later still before the needles really jump (“Bull in a China Shop,” essentially the Go-Gos’ “Vacation” loosely translated for the Final Four crowd). B

— Eric W. Saeger