Plumbiferous Media

All in Good Time – Barenaked Ladies

Apr 4th 2010
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All in Good Time - Barenaked LadiesBarenaked Ladies
All in Good Time
Score: 43








Now fairly prolific band Barenaked Ladies released their newest album at the end of last month. Also their twelfth album, All in Good Time, doesn’t walk the line between innovative and clichéd; instead, it falls to both sides’ extremes. Some songs are quite interesting, while others are simply dull and uninnovative. Ultimately, the all but worthless lyrics become the deciding factor, and the album tips irrevocably towards inanity.

There is quite a bit on All in Good Time that is genuinely interesting. The first track may completely fail to inspire with its decidedly mundane use of the “get louder while repeating the same words over and over” technique. However, the follow up, “Summertime,” does spend half of its time toying with a powerful distorted guitar, while the other half contains some interesting high countermelodies (though the two halves never seem to connect). Additionally, “Four Seconds” is very successful – if you can ignore the laughable excuse for lyrics – with its somewhat twisted, ska-inspired, occasionally decaying instrumentals, and “How Long” manages to drive the album out of a particularly dull section.

Unfortunately, much of the album is just dull. So much is extremely easy to tune out, either because the sound becomes all too clichéd, the album drops into useless repetition, or the lyrics become just that sappy. What’s left is a modest selection of tracks, interesting, but certainly not enough (length-wise) to support the rest of All in Good Time.

With co-founder and lead vocalist Steven Page’s departure from the group, Ed Robertson takes on the majority of vocal duties for All in Good Time. This isn’t especially jarring, given Robertson’s gradual increase in vocal presence over the last few Ladies albums, but Page’s absence is still notable. Vocally, not much has changed over twelve albums. Robertson’s mellow, almost-pedestrian delivery only occasionally breaks into something more interesting, such as the almost painfully nonsensical “Four Seconds” – but then, the band is known less for overall creativity than for occasional bursts of creativity among fairly mundane sections.

Before approaching the topic of lyrics, it’s important to note that Barenaked Ladies does not write deep music. That’s simply not the point. That said, however, there’s a difference between inoffensive and inane. With All in Good Time, Barenaked Ladies tips dangerously close to the latter side. About half of the album is composed of the painfully sappy love songs Barenaked Ladies is so fond of: “Hold on, here comes another heartbreak…” The other half seemingly represents Robertson’s attempts, in an effort to be creative, to rhyme every word in the English language. Unsurprisingly, this backfires. Yes, you can sort-of rhyme “orange” with “door-hinge,” but there is simply no good reason to do so. It’s that sort of absolutely befuddling lyrical decision that sinks All in Good Time. It’s not creative to write “Oh flip, the light is turning orange / Coat ripped when I caught it in the door-hinge.” Instead, it most resembles the combination of a rhyming dictionary and a desperate lack of writing skill.

At the end, even with its lyrical disasters and filler, All in Good Time isn’t a total failure. Instead, what it is is a short selection of genuinely good, interesting and occasionally funny tracks surrounded by a whole lot of mediocrity. The mediocrity, as it tends to do, wins out, leaving All in Good Time pretty badly off. But that said, it isn’t impossible to pick out the good bits of the album. It’s just harder than most listeners will have patience for.


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