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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