Buzzipper | Winterport, ME United States | 02/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My first thought: here we go again. Hot on the heels of their most prolific, diverse and artistically interesting album to date, the Ladies decide to return to form. Great. Just when I thought they were taking a step in a new direction. I played it once, found it to be what I'd grown tired of recently, which was Ed and Steve playing to their strengths, sandwiched between some obligatory Kevin Hearn weirdness. More rockin' than the previous release, which I still upheld as a far superior disc. I played it a second time, and started to feel the strengths of each song, and thought to myself, huh, glorified outtakes. I played it a third time, and I never review an album until I've played it at least three times, but then it started to hit me. This album is every bit as good, if not better, than Are Me. Smartly crafted, sonically unique and tirelessly aggressive, this is not the Ladies resting on their laurels. And here's the beauty of it; neither is Are Me! These are career milestones, in my opinion. Not quite a double album, not a package of extras, but pure creative adrenaline put to music. I've spun the new one several times since, and even played the two of them back to back. This is my prognosis: it was very wise of them to release Are Me first, because the power of this latest album might have overwhelmed the fragile, yet intense beauty of the first one. Song for song, this might actually be better than Are Me. It's unfolding like a puzzle. Just when I think I don't like a song, the next time I hear it, I love it. There are a few minor things, like some rhymes that come off as silly, but they are minor in the grand scheme of things. That's the best thing about these two releases. These guys aren't making silly music at all anymore; they are churning out great music from all over the landscape, but injecting it with their usual unusual take on things. "Fun & Games" is an absolute must-hear. I realized that tidbit somewhere between the third listen and wherever I am now. I'm too deeply involved with the album to keep track. I'm hooked. These albums are good stuff on their own, but together and complete, they're a total knockout."
A stellar companion to "Are Me"
Wezzo | SW England | 02/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The second part of what is essentially a double-album, "Barenaked Ladies Are Men" thankfully does not disappoint. Those concerned about it being comprised of the rejects from "..Are Me", don't be concerned - if anything, this has the edge on the former in terms of sheer listenability.
The album covers all the ground you'd expect: from the emotional ballad ("Half a Heart", "The New Sad") to the rock'n'roll roller-coaster ("Something You'll Never Find", "Quality"), not forgetting their trademark witty, literate pop ("Angry People", "Running Out Of Ink"). It's a cliche, but there's something here for everyone.
On the whole, it's more upbeat than its predecessor, but there's no shortage of emotional balladry. "The New Sad" is up there with "War on Drugs" and "The Wrong Man Was Convicted" in terms of pure, gut-wrenching impact; while the semi-acoustic "Half a Heart" and "I Can, I Will, I Do" add to the atmopshere without slowing down the album's oft-frenetic pace. Opener "Serendipity" is vaguely reminiscent of "Are Me"'s opener "Adrift" in tone.
As good as the more downbeat tracks are, however, the real draw of this album are the catchy pop-rock tracks most of us love the Ladies for. The frantic pace of "Something You'll Never Find" and "Running Out of Ink" is reminiscent of the best of They Might Be Giants, and BNL's own "Gordon". "Quality" has one of the finest choruses of any BNL song, while "Angry People" is vaguely reminiscent of a poppier E2E's "Shopping" - but it's far superior, in every sense. Think Beach Boys crossed with "It's All Been Done", and you get the vague idea.
"Down to Earth" and "Maybe Not" are strong, rocky and catchy songs that can hold their own with anything from "Stunt" and "Maroon", the mid-tempo "Another Spin" is a beautiful fusion of jazz, pop and rock, while the closing double complement each other nicely and are superior to "Are Me"'s already-solid closer, "Wind it Up".
Lyrically, BNL remain at the top of their game here, wit, wordplay and sarcasm all present and correct - but I would suggest that the political sentiment of "Fun & Games" is a little too overbearing. I'm not sure whether they're being semi-sarcastic and self-deprecating in their anti war rant, but if they're not it'd probably be a good plan to keep their politics distinct from their music in future. Their hearts are in the right place, no doubt, but it's a little jarring when such a catchy, upbeat song is filled with such harsh and explicit sentiment.
But that is just a very minor criticism of what is honestly a brilliant album. There are no truly 'weak' tracks, and there are plenty of standouts. If you're already a BNL fan, I'm preaching to the converted; if you're not, this is as good a starting point as any."
Quality, and definitely not a Letdown!
Joshua Gooch | Earth | 02/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this album bundled with the first leg ('Barenaked Ladies Are Me') when it was released in the fall off of iTunes and have had the pleasure of listening to both consecutively for many months now. That being said, I feel this is the stronger of the two if a comparison were to be made, though both are fine releases. This album ranges from catchy to sweet to funny to political to thoughtful to downright clever. This is one of the band's most complete albums, and when put together with the fall release, is by far the most enjoyable set i've heard. I would highly recommend this to either new fans or longtime fans of the band, as it seems to have a little bit of everything. Serendipity is a good start to the album and sets it up nicely, as Adrift did on 'Barenaked Ladies Are Me'.
When it comes to individual tracks, it's hard to pick out ones to highlight or mention because they're almost all strong in some regard, but my favorites are the aforementioned Serendipity with its calm rhythm, great vocals, and relaxing harmony and guitarwork; Angry People, because of the great "doo"s that the Ladies pull off, it's upbeat spirit, good writing, and megaphone action; Running Out of Ink, just because it's fun; Maybe Not, which has quickly become one of my favorite BNL songs of all time with terrific guitars, musical delivery allowing the vocals to shine, and retro clapping (we need more of that from today's music!); Fun & Games, though not as subtle a political statement (think Shopping very subtly ridiculing the Bush administration's downright laughable reaction to 9/11 before the truly tragic reaction began) does have some terrific nutshelling of the Iraq debacle as well as how obscene the last congress' session was; Quality, just a downright well built song with some interesting writing and catchy hooks; and finally Another Spin, which has a great guitarwork but really shines in its vocal display.
I am truly pleased with this album and again would highly recommend it to anyone. The band did not put any filler on here, as they don't with most of their albums. I do recommend buying both this and the already released Barenaked Ladies Are Me for maximum enjoyment and to get the full effect. Enjoy!
Barenaked Ladies Are Men (2007): 5 Star Songs: 12 4 Star Songs: 4 Overall: Strong 5 (95% - 4.8/5)"
Bruce Robertson | Salem, OR | 04/14/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I was kind of surprised that I hadn't heard any of the songs from this album get at least a little air play, but after listening to the CD, I can see why. Just about all the tracks sound muddled. I was pretty disappointed by the mixing. To me, the instrumental portion of the songs drowns out the lyrics. It is really hard, harder than it should be, to understand the words because the singing is overshadowed buy the instruments."
Love, love, love BNL
K. Orr | Philadelphia PA | 11/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love BNL and this CD did not let me down. I went to see the band in concert after getting this CD and they are even better live then they are on the CD. The band comes up with some of the most original lyrics and arrangements ! They are so unique, the music is refreshing and new in a land of cookie cutter bands. A friend went with me to the concert and he was not really familiar with the band but after the concert, he was hooked. if you like BNL, you will love this CD."