SameDiff BNL

Barenaked for the Holidays

By MacKENZIE WILSON, allmusic, October 2004.

The Barenaked Ladies took their time in following up their almost commercial flop Maroon. Having Don Was in the production seat wasn't enough to fleshing out the Barenaked Ladies' bright musical humor although Pinch Me and Falling For The First Time were moderate radio hits.

Opting to shake things up (as much as they can for being jokesters), Barenaked Ladies hooked up with Ron Aniello (Guster, Lifehouse, Loudermilk) three years later for Everything to Everyone. A dynamic mix of the band's special branded wit and bittersweet reflections, Barenaked Ladies show their age on their fifth release. Don't fret—growing up isn't easy to do, but some members of the band are Daddies and BNL crafted a set of song in a post-September 11th society.

Instead of mocking themselves and refraining from harshly criticizing the arena that's made them popular, BNL subtlety ridicules corporate excess. If the title itself doesn't give that away, songs like Celebrity and the techno-inflected Shopping will. Those smart enough to get the slyness hiding inside the joke will be amused by Everything To Everyone and the poignant lyrics Steven Page and Ed Robertson are known for. War On Drugs is a somber reflection and Next Time is that second chance you're always hoping will be there.

Everything to Everyone is probably the Barenaked Ladies' most honest album—always touching, but serious and completely open for the first time in their 15-year career. Several artists have made their attempt to spoof on the celebrity-obsessed world we live in, but the Barenaked Ladies succeed in keeping things simple.

Sure, their classic charm will forever be a part of them, but wising up to make a point is what's real. If you can laugh in the process, all the better. [A CD/DVD edition with special packaging and artwork is also available. The DVD, which allows the listener to hear the album in surround sound, includes behind the scenes material from the studio, 11 acoustic songs and five Internet bonus clips].

Rating: Four stars out of five.