Barenaked Ladies - Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before - Album Review

Warner Music Canada

by Elena Maystruk

http://barenakedladies.com/

A rare treasure from any long-time artist is a look at their un-publicized work. The “scraps”, if you will, of everything cultivated over the years, yet not necessarily shared with an audience. Wouldn’t it be great for example, if author of Catcher In the Rye, J.D. Saliger had any of his other work published after that beautiful literary one-hit wonder? Artists in any field tend to keep a treasure trove of un-seen genius shut-up in notebooks their whole lives, only revealing the work they truly see fit for the audience’s eyes and ears. How many creations have perished this way? The numbers are immeasurable. Perhaps it was a sense of preservation that made The Barenaked Ladies come out with their new album.

A collection of never-before revealed works and two hard-to-find singles make up the twelve tracks of Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before. Now some might say: “Are they trying to re-live their greatest hits album?” After all, similarly to this new album, that piece of work was also representative of their long-time partnership with Reprise Records. But the effect is considerably different.

Maybe not all of the stylized sounds are top-of-the-charts material, but that is probably why they were never before released, passed over for what, at the time may have been a more commercially acceptable sound. Unlike the band’s other work, instead of representing the perfectionism that occurs in a recording studio, these versions of songs symbolize the artists’ journey through sound and song. This is a piece of work that only a long-standing band like The Barenaked Ladies can pull off. The tug of secrecy and curiosity for fans is of more importance than the quality of the songs themselves.

That being said, the album is still very well done. Fans will not be disappointed as the band’s usual style still carries through. This work is appealing because of the audible differences in easily recognizable songs like “Same Thing” and “Half a Heart”. Much of the work is heavily acoustic and earthy, bringing to the forefront a more rustic, relaxed vibe.

BNL spaces out the ballads however, continuously interchanging them with faster songs infused with a familiar groovy, boyish sound. In addition to different versions of their songs, the band includes the previously un-released live track “Teenage Wasteland”, an impressive cover of Beastie Boys’ “Shake Your Rump”, the demo for classic single “Old Apartment” and a remix of “One Week”

Overall, the release is a sticky smorgasbord of the band’s accumulations over the years, but one that fans should enjoy wholeheartedly. It’s not often that a band let it all hang out.