18: Stunt (Barenaked Ladies)

Album: Stunt
Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Year: 1998

1, One Week
2. It’s All Been Done
3. Light Up My Room
4. I’ll Be That Girl
5. Leave
6. Alcohol
7. Call and Answer
8. In the Car
9. Never Is Enough
10. Who Needs Sleep?
11. Told You So
12. Some Fantastic
13. When You Dream

Stunt was BNL’s American breakthrough, as One Week hit number one for, naturally, one week on the pop charts. It’s their most frenetic song and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I still enjoy it from time to time. Their other American hit from the album was It’s All Been Done, which is definitely an easier listen. The album continues with Light Up My Room, a mesmerizing dance of rhyme I think synthesizer, but there are several instruments on this album that I’ve never heard of, including the clavinet, the melodica, and the wah wah guitar. I’ll Be That Girl is an exceptionally written song about relationship anger and severe depression cloaked in BNL’s usual light-hearted whimsy.

The album slows down just slightly from here. Leave is a really simple and bitter break-up song. And while Alcohol is probably my favorite song about alcohol, I just don’t care that much about songs about alcohol. I will say though that the lyrics mirror my life a bit, with the singer discussing his previous snobbish condescension to those who drank before realizing that it can be quite enjoyable, though I never used it as an antidepressant like Steven Page did.

Call and Answer might be BNL’s best ballad, about a painful reconciliation that is highlighted by some excellent harmony. Then we get to four songs that have the trademark clever lyric but musically are nothing special. Never is Enough is an oversimplification of college being a useless degree factory. Who Needs Sleep?, about insomnia, has a catchy rhythm but like One Week I can only listen to it every so often.

Some Fantastic is my favorite song here. It’s just so damn easy on the ears. I can also identify with desperately wanting an old love back and fantasizing about all the ways I could convince them to come back. Either way, if you like BNL and haven’t heard this one, give it a shot.

Unfortunately, they end yet another album with another really slow, boring song. It gives props to Del Shannon”s Runaway, one of my favorite songs from the 60’s, but it’s not enough to overcome how boring the melody is.

Looking through the rest of BNL’s discography, there are almost enough songs to make up an album of songs in my top 500, but they’ve really slowed down in quality over the past ten years. For the record, those five songs are Straw Hat and Dirty Old Hank, Shoebox, Conventioneers, The Wizard of Magicland, and Bank Job.

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2 thoughts on “18: Stunt (Barenaked Ladies)

  1. Likewise huge fan of this album. I actually enjoy the “When You Dream” ender, but then, I like albums that end on a softer note. There are few albums where every single song is actively on my MP3 player, and this is one of them.

  2. If I were to play the island game, this album would definitely be coming with me. I don’t need to listen to One Week very often and I could skip When You Dream on most days, but top to bottom a great album.

    Call and Answer may be my favorite song by them period, but Some Fantastic would be the other if I’m not in the ballad mood. I love where Ed sings “Bye, bye self respect” while Steven sings intervals on the word “bye”.

    Light Up My Room and I’ll Be that Girl would be the next best on here. I really like their casino sound in Alcohol and me and the wife sang Who Needs Sleep a lot half awake while driving around Arizona on vacation. I have a hard time not picturing David Duchovny playing the egg shaker while listening to It’s All Been Done.

    Maroon was so-so, Everything to Everyone is full of good songs (did not like Another Postcard until I learned the story behind it), but after that not much left an impression. The Ninjas always makes me smile though. I still have to listen to some of their stuff before Stunt, I’m sure I’m missing some there.

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