GUEST REVIEW – Audrey’s take on Fake Nudes!

BNL fan Audrey – that’s @HedwigGraymalk on Twitter to you and I – shares a take on BNL’s new album Fake Nudes.

Album cover hi res

Rather than beat around the bush or try and make it some cliffhanger I’m just going to say it – Fake Nudes took its place as my favorite Barenaked Ladies album on my very first listen.

It’s their most eclectic album by far and that’s what makes it sound so very BNL. Every song has a sound or a lyric that would let it fit on one of their past albums while being completely new. It’s almost like they finally captured the live sound of a Barenaked Ladies concert in a studio album. Even “Bag of Bones”, which took a little to grow on me, sounds a bit like a rare Kevin-led concert ad-lib. There are tastes of the artists that have influenced BNL over the years without it ever feeling derivative or rehashed. They easily could have toured Fake Nudes in its entirety like they did with Everything to Everyone on the Peepshow tour.

I love that Barenaked Ladies are proudly Canadian and “Canada Dry” so wonderfully celebrates that while at the same time having that tinge of nostalgia and loss.

Bringing it Home” is nostalgic in a totally different way and I adore it. We long-time fans know how hard the band worked to get where they are and it’s great to hear them look back on and celebrate that in such a fun pop song.

Hearing Kevin so much on Fake Nudes was a welcome surprise. “Invisible Fence” is perfectly BNL with a catchy tune and political lyrics that still manage to be somewhat lighthearted.

Lookin’ Up” is the younger sibling of “Odds Are”, and a song I feel like most of the world could use right now. There are so many really grab-you-by-the-soul lyrics on the whole album but, “Everywhere I go is home/ Every town and every road/ Every song I’ve ever known carried in my bones” are some of my favorite lyrics in the entire history of the band.

A lot of people have said “Sunshine” might be Ed’s best song ever. I put it in my top five. Lyrically it feels like it could fit on Maybe You Should Drive or Born on a Pirate Ship but it’s more mature than those albums.

As a longtime fan of Thin Buckle “Dusty Rooms” is neat because it could fit on a Thin Buckle album just as easily as it fits here on a Barenaked Ladies album. It’s very Kevin but in a way that I think is accessible to most BNL fans.

With every album, Jim’s contribution gets stronger. I’d love to hear more from him on future albums (but I also want every album to have 20 tracks…) “We Took The Night” is very grooving in a ’90s alternative way. The whole band is getting very good at writing songs that are timeless in the way they could fit multiple decades.

For 26 years I had the same favorite song (having added a co-favorite in 2000). “Navigate” obliterated that. It grabbed me on the very first listen, both musically and lyrically, in a way that had not happened, literally, since I was ten years old. When I listen to “Navigate” I can see in my head the two starriest nights I’ve ever witnessed – both of which were in Canada. The way the song fades in and out, the guitar tones, the piano in the middle, the fact that it’s electric but evokes being outside, and the sincerity of the lyrics make it just perfect.

Flying Dreams” is one of the prettiest, saddest, and sweetest songs ever. Kevin and Jim’s voices were made to sing that song together.

The first time BNL played “Adrift” live I happened to be in the audience. It was before they’d even recorded it. I remember thinking that we needed to hear Ed and Kevin sing together much more in the future. This album delivers on that. But after hearing the songs that Ed and Kevin collaborated on writing here, I want to hear that more. “Nobody Better” is such a great song from the lyrics to the unexpected beat. It’s one I’m very excited to hopefully hear live.

Bag of Bones” won’t be for everyone. It’s not even always for me, but in the right mood it’s fun. And you’ve gotta love Ed’s record scratching.

If anyone was worried that Fake Nudes wouldn’t have a quirky love song or enough pop culture references “You + Me vs The World” will take care of those fears. It’s one of those songs that is completely new but immediately feels familiarly BNL.

I didn’t know what to make of “20/20 Hindsight” at first. It’s kinda little classic rock, it’s a little pop, there’s a touch of honky tonk… It’s not even something I would expect from Kevin. It’s a really great surprise.

Ending with “The Township of King” just wraps things up perfectly. It’s slightly reminiscent of the Irish-Canadian band The Irish Rovers. It would probably fit in on Gordon even though Kevin was years from joining the band back then, and yet it’s a totally fresh and delightful song.

Overall Fake Nudes feels the most like a fully involved band album since Gordon, maybe ever. It’s a natural progression from Silverball, except it feels like they jumped ahead a few grades! And with all the awesome songs Ed has written with Kevin Griffin in the last handful of years I am incredibly psyched for the Last Summer on Earth 2018 tour with Better Than Ezra!

Thanks Audrey!

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