Album Reviews

Barenaked Ladies – Everything To Everyone

(Reprise) UK release date: 19 April 2004


Barenaked Ladies - Everything To Everyone The trouble with releasing a brilliant debut album is that it’s hard to produce anything as good afterwards. This is the case for Barenaked Ladies, the quirky Canadian troupe whose fifth studio album Everything To Everyone is out now. You see, it’s just not Gordon.

Gordon was BNL’s debut and featured the haunting Brian Wilson, the staple singalong If I Had $1,000,000 and the funny Be My Yoko Ono. It’s an album full of classics and could easily be repackaged as BNL’s greatest hits. It’s what sealed their fame. Even Brian Wilson himself sang Brian Wilson as the opening song during his British tour in 2002.

The band are one of North America’s most popular acts, having sold 10 million records worldwide thanks to Gordon and hits like One Week, a song that still gets played regularly on commercial radio.

Fans of BNL won’t be disappointed with Everything To Everyone, as it features their trademark witty lyrics, tight harmonies, and genre-hopping from upbeat powerful feel-good melodies to slow, searing country songs. The band focus their offbeat look on the 21st century world with bittersweet songs such as the opener Celebrity that has the lines: “All that’s left of me is my celebrity / I will get in first and I will get in free.”

Shopping takes the mick out of retail therapy and I suppose the bubblegum-chewing airheads for whom shopping at couture boutiques is their life. The heart-breaking War On Drugs tells the tale of a cracked woman fighting drug demons and features the end line: “Another died and the world just shrugged it off.”

If this sounds like serious stuff, then there’s also a healthy supply of the kookie “Smart Alec” lyrics akin to They Might Be Giants and Grandaddy. Another Postcard wins first prize for being frankly ridiculous but charmingly so – it’s a song about “someone who is sending me stationary filled with chimpanzees”, and off goes their lightning-speed rap with, “Some chimps in hard harts, chimps a-working on a chain gang, some chimps who love cats, burning rubber in a Mustang, a birthday-wishing chimp.” I think you get the picture.

Unfinished comes second with, “Everything is un, everything is unfin, everything is unfinished.” Ha ha, very clever. Yet as polished as this album is, it’s sadly nothing ground-breaking. It’s animated, well-produced, full of twists and turns and quirks. But when it all boils down, it’s more of the same, and just not as good as Gordon.


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