GordonBy GILES SMITH, Q Magazine, November 1992.
Barenaked Ladies are a consciously nerdy Canadian five-piece, doing very nicely at home and gradually gathering fans here, thanks to their batty single Be My Yoko Ono. On this debut album, they come on like a slightly less wiggy They Might Be Giants, exposing a precocious familiarity with sundry pop styles, a reliable ear for a hook and an enviable grasp of harmony. Hello City quotes the Housemartins' Happy Hour and there are some lively R&B touches here which that group would have enjoyed. Grade 9, a first-day-at-school scenario, is poor person's Madness, though it does contain the redeeming line, "I've got a blue and red Adidas bag and a humungous binder". Occasionally, they keep a straight face and hit ballad mode, at which times vocalist Steven Page sounds uncannily like Joan Armatrading. The album is perhaps overlong and a little too eager to please with its smartness, but you could forgive anything from a band that sings "absence makes the heart grow fungus".
Rating: Three stars.