SameDiff BNL



Barenaked Ladies have been to the dark side and back. They have grasped their bit of pop stardom, have suffered the eventual, inevitable backlash, and have emerged stronger than ever. Almost.

Think back to the summer of '98. Brandy and Monica were fighting over just whose boy it was, Britney was just beginning her reign, and a bunch of dudes from Canada had a hit album, Stunt. It was with this album, their fourth, that BNL achieved their first major piece of pop-hitdom. The album went platinum (four times), and the irritating "One Week" went to number one. The McG-directed video became, for one season, an MTV staple. And then, as it is with so many bands, the boys fell out of favor and off the radar.

But now they're back, with the Don Was-produced Maroon, an album far better than the last. It's full of clever, upbeat songs and comes close to blending the lyrical and melodic brilliance of their first album, Gordon, with the energy of their live album, Rock Spectacle. Songs like "Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel" and "Go Home," both rife with tight wordplay, double entendres, and irresistible hooks, remind us why they ever became mainstream-popular in the first place. They make music you can bounce around the room to, music that will keep on bouncing around in your head long after you've shut it off.

"Pinch Me," Maroon's first single, is a throwback to "One Week," with its fast-talk/half-rap chorus of nonsense, twangy bass and shuffling beat. "Pinch Me," however, like most of Maroon's 12 songs, is less contrived than anything on Stunt.

The band will probably never eclipse the sheer pop perfection of some of their earlier songs ("If I Had a Million Dollars," "Brian Wilson") but Maroon still proves they do it better than most.