The Barenaked Ladies have it all: fans, fortune and talent. But
since their last album, 2000’s near-commercial failure,
Maroon, the Ladies have been in serious danger of becoming a
worn-out novelty act. So what have BNL been up to and why do we
care? On their sixth release, Everything to Everyone, the
Barenaked Ladies answer with a maturity and musical sensibility
that surpasses that of any previous effort.
Everything to Everyone captures the Barenaked Ladies
surveying a large portion of the human experience, from excess
commercialism to relationship anxiety. Produced by Ron Aniello
(Guster, Lifehouse), Everything to Everyone is best
described as eclectic. There’s tango, country, pop, techno and
“Celebrity” kicks off with a simple piano riff that’s
complemented with rich vocals and lush arrangements. BNL take a
stab at the concept of celebrity, wherein you “Leave your heart /
Lay down your art,” and are strictly “here for the party.” The
techno-influenced “Shopping” proposes that “Everything will always
be all right / When we go shopping.” The Britney
Spears-meets-the-tropics-sounding “Another Postcard” tells of a
series of postcards from chimpanzees, and “Maybe Katie” is just
funny, with its chorus of “What’s so maybe about Katie?”
But while at times silly, BNL have more on their minds than
laughs and cheap shots. “Aluminum,” with its introspective
harmonies and gentle guitar treatments, is a heartfelt testimony of
attraction to someone who only causes you pain. “War on Drugs”
explores suicide and the guilt associated with such. So to speak,
there’s something for everyone.
It seems almost dangerous to create an album so eclectic, with
so much joy and so much pain. Somehow though, the Barenaked Ladies
pull it off. Everything to Everyone is honest from start to
finish, and by the end we can’t help but smile, for thanks to BNL,
living is all the sweeter.
Rating: 3.5 stars.