Barenaked Ladies
Grinning Streak


3.5
great

Review

by CynicalComplex USER (3 Reviews)
June 8th, 2013 | 9 replies


Release Date: 06/04/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Releasing their best album since Maroon, the Ladies think it's time to prove that they've come back here to rebuild.

In the wake of the massive success of Stunt in 1999, the Barenaked Ladies entered a 10-year period of making their albums progressively less tongue-in-cheek. 2009 and 2010 wound up being the most trying years that the band ever faced. Between the departure of founding member and co-lead vocalist/songwriter Stephen Page, an airplane crash, and the death of Robertson's mother, many negative emotions found themselves channeled into song. The result was All in Good Time, an album with a preponderance of somber ballads and "comical" songs that for the most part sounded like forced afterthoughts.

However, Robertson and Co. have now had three years to pick up the pieces and heal. Grinning Streak is the result; an album that is neither grieving like All in Good Time nor freewheeling like Stunt or Gordon. Grinning opts for uptempo, happy tracks in the vein of the latter two, but the optimism is now more much more restrained. In one of the album's strongest tracks, Robertson tells us that the "odds are that we / will probably be / alright." It is a message that we've heard many times before, but what makes "Odds Are" so striking is that Robertson seems to be singing to convince himself and his bandmates as much as he is trying to convince us. And all of this in a 3 minute pop song with a hook that would make "One Week" green with envy.

This may also be the most experimental album that the Ladies have ever cut. Although some residual influence from their early days remains, Grinning is neither predominantly folk-y college rock a la Gordon nor sleekly-produced alt pop-rock like Stunt. Rather than the Beach Boys and the Beatles, the Ladies instead draw inspiration from 80s New Wave ("Best Damn Friend"), ambient ("Daydreamin'", the excellent outro of "Crawl"), and even White Stripes-esque garage rock ("Keepin' It Real"). As a whole, this works surprisingly well--"Daydreamin'" may be the first Kevin Hearn song that I view as more than filler--although the occasional misstep is evident ("Did I Just Say That Out Loud", "Smile").

Fundamentally, Grinning Streak is a album about survival, about picking oneself up off the ground after a crisis, dusting off, and continuing to fight, laugh, and love--an extremely relevant message in today's unstable, uncertain, divisive world. While Grinning may not be the exact album that pre-Maroon fans may be craving, it is the first album that BnL has released in 10 years that is (in many cases, significantly) better than its predecessor. Fans of the Ladies' older albums may never get their wish fulfilled, but Grinning Streak may be enough to convince them that such a thing is no longer needed.

Track picks: "Limits", "Boomerang", "Odds Are", "Keepin' It Real", "Crawl"
Rating: 3.5/5 (A fundamentally good album whose rough spots may tempt the listener into pushing skip once or twice.)


user ratings (13)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
CynicalComplex
June 8th 2013


56 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Second review, tried to avoid a track-by-track like Pretzel Logic as per suggestion. Hope that everyone enjoys, and critique is always welcome!

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2013


6448 Comments


These guys still exist? I love the best-of album.

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mark1991
June 9th 2013


37 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Its pretty good album, better than All in Good time. My rating will probably go up in time.

Also i'm surprised they left 'Fog of Writing' off the main cd, its a great track better than most of the album actually.

SadAndHolyGlow
June 14th 2013


1521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I can't wait to listen to this. Great review, by the way!

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - You're a Woman, I'm a Machine

antigravity
June 23rd 2013


522 Comments


how did i miss this

CheapPurple
June 25th 2013


17 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think it is as good as All in Good Time - I seem to be in a minority here - but I do think it is an enjoyable listen. The bonus tracks are great, so buying the album at Target was definitely worth it.

premmisseth
August 16th 2013


26 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Few songs are great but most of them fillers that are trying to be trendy.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 16th 2013


13139 Comments


best band

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

townsendaround
September 11th 2014


2 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The shame is that there are still people saying, "Oh, they're not as good without Steve..." Truth is, they're just as good, but different. Page wrote sad, clever and introspective songs of occasional brilliance. Robertson tends to write upbeat, clever and optimistic songs of occasional brilliance. We now get more of the latter than the former.

The truth is, however, that if you really wish to appreciate the art of Barenaked Ladies, the place to do it is in a concert hall near you. The records are good, the live performances awesome.



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