Album Review: Barenaked Ladies – Silverball

Published On June 10, 2015 | By Michael Smith | Albums, Music

Barenaked Ladies have been operating for around twenty three years now, releasing fourteen studio albums throughout that period with minimal line-up changes, without any major changes to their style. In an industry where older acts are implicitly pressured into chasing the next fad or updating their sound to remain relevant, sticking to your roots can often be seen as boring, if not downright detrimental to your career. Silverball suggests otherwise.

Barenaked Ladies SilverballWith Silverball, there aren’t any major changes. Their alternative rock formula is followed pretty closely, and it works in the album’s favour. The quality keeps up throughout the album, with some tracks easily shining above the rest through the use of production quirks and additional instruments compared to the rest of the album. The main selling point is that nothing really suffers in the album’s context because of this.

The album starts off strong, opening with two strong tracks before coming to the first standout, Matter Of Time. The song’s bouncy attitude amplified by the airy synth effects that play throughout the song feels unique even after listening to the rest of the album, and Ed Robertson’s restrained vocal performance adds another layer to the song that ties it all together, with the light inclusion of brass instrumentation ending it on an even higher note.

Immediately following it up is the album’s strongest track, Duct Tape Heart, whose vocal melody in the chorus surpasses the rest of the songs on the album, and an almost robotic quality in the drum beat enhanced through the use of light synths helps to pull your interest in even more. While it’s more straightforward than Matter Of Time, the production truly stands out here, making it the better song.

But the real appeal of Silverball is its familiarity. The album makes it extremely clear that the Barenaked Ladies are good at what they do, and even the most general of rock tracks on the album still shine through. Songs like Globetrot and the title track Silverball sound like songs you’ve probably heard a million times before, but whether it be by their writing ability or Robertson’s raw vocal delivery, they still work. The closer Tired Of Fighting With You might be the only faltering point, verging a little too close to a ballad or even a lullaby for its own good, but it remains the sole exception.

It’s to the Barenaked Ladies’ credit that they can still make an album as strong as this twenty three years into their career. While one would think of this somewhat static sound as a bad thing, they manage to prove us wrong yet again; the album remains entertaining throughout and often sounds fresh despite the fact. Silverball is yet another success to add to their ever-growing discography.

3.5 / 5 stars     

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