'Dad Rock' at its Best

Are Me (Desperation Records)
Barenaked Ladies

By Kory Wilcoxson

The Rolling Stone review of Are Me uses the derisive term "dad rock" to describe the Barenaked Ladies' sound. Geez, is that such a bad thing? As a father, I like the idea of having "dad" and "rock" in the same sentence. Maybe I'm still buying into the assertion that it's hip to be square, but to me "dad rock" is a compliment.

You'd expect that BNL's sound has evolved from the more jokey hits they've had in the past. On Are Me, you won't find any raps about Sting being tantric or songs about chimps sending postcards. Instead, what you will find is a solid, if not outstanding, set of songs that paint a fuller, richer picture of the band's talent.

That picture comes into focus for two reasons: First, main songwriters Ed Robertson and Steve Page continue to mix mirth and melancholy on songs like "Bank Job" and "Everything Has Changed," and second, bassist Jim Creegan and keyboardist Kevin Hearn both make substantial contributions (Hearn's "Vanishing," on which he sings lead vocal, is especially endearing).

While BNL's style may be maturing, what hasn't changed is its ability to put together a catchy pop tune. "Bull in a China Shop" and "Rule the World with Love" are two examples of what makes BNL an enduring treat: songs with lots of moxie and a little kick (which, to a dad, is equivalent to a rock song).

More Barenakedness can be found at www.bnlmusic.com.