It's probably safe to say that fans of Barenaked Ladies
have never found a holiday album to suit their tastes until now, when the notoriously quirky Canadian quintet released Barenaked for the Holidays
. This will likely satisfy that portion of their audience (however large or small it is) that has wanted a holiday album delivered with that patented blend of jokiness and sentiment that's been the group's stock-in-trade. That may give the inaccurate impression that this album has been tossed off, which is hardly the case. The arrangements are nimble and largely clever, even when the group goes for an easy joke, as on the Casio-driven bossa nova instrumental revamp of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Admirably, the group doesn't rely solely on traditional carols, they contribute six originals to the mix; some, like "Green Christmas," are quite good, while others, like "Elf's Lament," are too jokey, but that may not bother the diehards all that much. Even more admirably, this is one of the few holiday albums that is pretty evenly divided between Christmas and Hanukkah songs, which isn't just nicely PC, but gives the album both musical and topical variety, making it a little more interesting and distinctive than the average holiday record. Still, whether you like the album or not boils down to this: do you find it funny when a slow, sincere version of "Jingle Bells" breaks into a jocular parody with the classic "Jingle bells/Batman smells/Robin laid an egg" lyric halfway through the song, and if you do, do you like the sentimental beginning as much as the silly conclusion? If so, Barenaked for the Holidays
is for you.