BNL: ME or MEN?

I’ve been a Barenaked Ladies fan for quite some time, and I’ve been to several of their concerts, and even have met them. They’re right up there with They Might Be Giants for me…
…but their latest albums have me confused. The mainstream album is Barenaked Ladies are Me, and features some great clips, the best of which is Bank Job (Fantastic song, one of their best I think). It also has some real snoozers…
Then, a few weeks ago, I found another BNL release: BNL are MEN. Similar cover art, but over 20 new songs. When I was at the BNL are ME concert launch 2 years ago here in Virginia, they hoped that starting in VA would bring them the kind of luck they had with Stunt (when they also launched the tour in VA). Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well for them this time, but considering that they have 2 BNL are ME CDs, I thought I’d compile a list of songs they could have put together on the same disc and produced a real winner:
(key: Me=BNL are ME, MEN=BNL are MEN)
1. Easy (ME): Enigmatically, this was the official single, and it’s not even the 3rd best song on the album. You could go with “Adrift” here too, and get the same effect.
2. Bank Job (ME): See above. Intelligent song…one of their best.
3. Sound of your Voice (ME): Gotta love a song when Steve can belt it out.
4. Wind it up (ME): The rock classic ditty
5. Maybe You’re Right (ME): Great melodies
6. Bull in a China Shop (ME): the radio-playable ditty necessary for every album
7. Angry People (Men): A classic sardonic song from the guys. Smart. Funny.
8. Running out of Ink (MEN): This would be the dark horse favorite of real BNL fans…it’s almost a memoire (like Gordon’s Box Set). Classic. Funny. Great song, simply great. Could’ve been the single.
9. Fun and Games (MEN): I love the lyrics on this one. Talk about going outside mainstream…and gotta hand it to them: 11 straight phrases ending with a word with the “..ected” as an ending.
10. Maybe Not (MEN): Another great song with great lyrical sarcasm, like “Pretty soon you’ll be needing me……….to leave”
11. Why Say Anything Nice (MEN)
12. Another Spin: Cool song, but oddly enough, sung by Kevin.

And while I’m on that… I have to say that I think Kevin “The New Guy” is an AMAZING piano player. He’s added depth to the band that they never knew before him…And considering he overcame cancer a number of years ago, I have to say, the guy is amazing. But why let him sing? When you already have not one, but TWO signature voices, why overdo it and add another? They’ve slowly been adding Kevin to the singing over the last few albums, starting with Maroon (which was a fairly forgettable album). On BNL are ME, he sings at least once, and on MEN, he sings twice. I see a pattern. The problem is, his singing style doesn’t match the energy of traditional BNL songs. I don’t get it, really I don’t.

13. Half a heart (MEN): Another song that’s better than 75% of the songs on ME.

And with that, I think you’d have a winning album.

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