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The Barenaked Ladies – Maroon

Cleverness is a delicate thing: go too far and it becomes self-parody; bury it too deep and it will be interpreted literally. Toronto’s Barenaked Ladies have been walking this tightrope through five albums and, on their sixth, they continue to balance smirking social commentary with genuine emotion. The Ladies make their digs both lyrically and musically. “Conventioneers” unfurls the story of two people who relinquish their office-place sexual tension at a convention where a game of Scrabble over drinks leads to the bathtub, the bed, and the inevitable morning-after regret. Set in a lights-down-low groove, we all get a good snicker at the expense of two lonely suits. Likewise, “Go Home” commands a wandering-eyed country boy to return to his woman in a hearty, twangy romp. The disc is fleshed out with the band’s dense, XTC-influenced jangle rock. This is the stuff that pasty, hopelessly undersexed white males drum up, half-delirious after endless Saturday-night binges on Dr. Who and Fawlty Towers marathons. It’s self-righteous, verbose, and frustrated, yet defensively cautious enough to mask the lurking bitterness in terribly pleasant, melodious pop.

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