Top positive review
More than enough for the casual fan
on 19 June 2017
Back in 2011, I noticed that there was a new Barenaked Ladies compilation coming out. To be perfectly honest, I'd never had much of an interest in the band before (naturally, I'd heard One Week before, but you'd have to have been living under a rock not to know that one), but they are the kind of group that have quite a dedicated, enthusiastic fan base and, on the strength of how much their fans rave about them, I figured that I should probably invest in a “best of” to get a flavour of their material. Formed in Canada, nearly three decades ago, Barenaked Ladies were founded by Ed Robertson and Steven Page (who left the band in 2009) and mixed upbeat indie-rock with often humorous lyrics, winning them as many fans for their onstage banter as for their music. Some fans have stated online that this compilation doesn't do the band justice at a mere fourteen tracks and some notable omissions (Be My Yoko Ono is certainly one I know about) but, as the kind of person this album is aimed at, I think it provides a decent and enjoyable overview of the band's music without letting the quality slip too much throughout.
The excellent If I Had $1,000,000 reminds me, a little, of Dr. Hook's gentle country-flavoured musical comedy style in the 1970s, with the hit rate of at least one genuine smile per verse, but, musically, is atypical of the majority of songs on this album. The Old Apartment is a big slice of catchy powerpop, the live version of Brian Wilson included here shows why fans rate the song so highly (I'd have much preferred a studio version, personally) and global smash hit One Week is brash, silly and infectious. It's All Been Done is a gorgeous Teenage Fanclub-on-steroids helping of melodic guitar pop and delicious melodies and Another Postcard is reminiscent of the kind of quirky songwriting They Might Be Giants specialise in. There's also the Big Bang Theory Theme, which is an exclusive to this particular compilation (crafty way of getting big fans to buy this), a fun, witty and enjoyable track, although, again, it is quite similar to the style of They Might Be Giants; it does feature a rather nifty synthesiser solo, though.
It's not all sheer brilliance; well, not in my opinion, anyway. Whilst the vast majority of this compilation is very easy on the ears, some of it feels a bit too loud and unsubtle for my tastes (Pinch Me and Too Little Too Late, for example) and I'm left thinking that plenty of other bands do this kind of upbeat guitar pop with much greater aplomb and grace than Barenaked Ladies. The fact that this is supposed to be a condensed taster of the very best of the band doesn't exactly make me want to buy more BNL albums and discover supposedly lesser tracks. Listening to it a few times hasn't particularly changed my mind on this and, although I've enjoyed listening to this “best of”, I think one Barenaked Ladies album that has most of their best known songs is plenty enough for me.