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Maroon

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4

All-Reviews.com Music Review: Maroon

Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: September 2000


Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Maroon isn't remarkable or ground breaking. But it's almost always good, well made music. Maroon is very likeable. Barenaked Ladies seem like nice, decent guys. BNL have been hugely successful in their native Canada since their 1992 debut but their pleasant, somewhat mischievous music was too mild mannered for the U.S. market until the impossible to ignore One Week stormed the charts. The appealing rockers It's All Been Done and Alcohol also got some airplay but much of the Stunt CD was slow and boring. Barenaked Ladies have learned a lesson. There are more upbeat songs on Maroon and it's less often boring. Maroon is always pleasant and enjoyable though it's often genial and sturdy rather than exciting or great.

Singer Stephen Page has usually had the BNL spotlight but Ed Robertson sings two of the best songs on Maroon. Pinch Me is the closest Maroon comes to One Week's excitement. It lacks that song's irresistable energy but has an appealing languor. On the chorus, Robertson again does a cocky, fluid rap, a nice contrast with the mellower verses about a guy sleepwalking through a boring life. BNL have modest quirks under the polite facade. A non sequitor assumes the audience responds to the line "I can hide out under there" by asking "under where?" and Robertson sings, "I just made you say underwear." The CD version of Pinch Me has a nice mellow guitar jam coda that's not on the single or the video. On Falling For The First Time, Tyler Stewart's quick, loose drumming, Robertson's guitar and Kevin Hearn's rollicking piano create a buoyant mood. Robertson's singing has innocent enthusiasm that invigorates an oft explored subject matter.

Page's songs are O.K. though some are a bit glib and superficial. The situations of The Humor Of The Situation aren't too funny and the music is insubstantial but it has the high spirits of It's All Been Done. Never Do Anything is a little too cute. The music, with metallic keyboards, is repetitious. Page does his narsicistic character, rapping about what he would do if he was king, but has some good lines including his great idea to make money, which apparently is just to get onto the internet. Go Home is a pleasant throwaway, most notable for fun rhymes like, "if you're flummoxed and flushed and your heartbeat is rushed, then get out of the slush, tell your dog team to mush." Conventioneers is a sweet("up to your room for a drink and Travel Scrabble") if slight ballad about two coworkers who have a brief affair then awkwardly return to a superficial work relationship. Maroon lacks the kind of fun idiosyncratic song, like If I Had a $1000000 or Be My Yoko Ono, that helped establish BNL's image. I could do without Maroon's most flamboyant song, Sell Sell Sell. With a harp sound and Page's mock dramatic vocal, it's pretty silly. The lyric isn't as meaningful as Page thinks. He sings about an actor unappreciated by a bottom line obsessed industry then finds a tenuous connection with the idea that our government and media sold the Gulf war as entertainment. Page's best moments are when he's most direct.Too Little Too Late, another song like It's All Been Done, is high energy straight ahead rock with a tight guitar riff. Handclaps on the chorus create a joyful feel. Page's songs towards the end of Maroon are appealingly restrained. I could do without Baby Seat's uplifting message("you've got to stand on your own, don't admit defeat") but the rhythm section and keyboards create a very cool, urbane groove. Helicopters is a better anti-war song than Sell Sell Sell. It has the nice nostalgic feel of Brian Wilson, from their Gordon CD, as Page wearily sings about being in a soon to be forgotten bomb devastated area.

Maroon was produced by Don Was, who has successfully polished the sound of veteran rockers who haven't had hits for a while. Maroon is Barenaked Ladies' most consistent work, but the pursuit of mainstream appeal sometimes means the songs are a little too glossy. Hidden Sun, Maroon's hidden track, is refreshingly stark. Since making Stunt, Kevin Hearn has successfully battled leukemia. His unshowy vocals are a little like Willie Nelson at his most vulnerable. He hauntingly sings about how "suddenly things become unsound" on "shaky ground" and about seeing "the beauty of the human heart." The rest of Maroon is more polished but it's still very nice, listenable music.

10000031

 


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