SameDiff BNL


By PHIL SUTCLIFFE, Q Magazine, March 1999.

Head: Teary Clowns intro: They look happy. They sound happy. They're not happy. One Week, Barenaked Ladies' surprise pop/ toasting American Number 1 single, must have appealed to people who say "Hey, that's witty" first, then laugh to prove their point. The game: grab a contemporary reference, force a rhyme, take a bow, viz "Like Harrison Ford, I'm getting frantic/ Like Sting, I'm tantric". With a genuine reputation for humour earned by their previous four albums, chief writers Ed Robertson and Steven Page probably felt they had to be funny even though, evidently, their mood was sombre and their compulsive subject seems to be the aftermath of bust and buggered relationships. Thus, all their best lines deal in cold loathing: "I've informed you to leave/ 'Cause I can't stand to hear you breathe" (Leave); "I promise you I'll be the first to crucify you" (Call & Answer, co-written, as are two other tracks, by Brit Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy). And such darkness does not sit comfortably with their invariably light, jogalong, acoustic sound. These Canadians seem to have found their less selective audience with the wrong album.

Rating: Two stars.