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Snacktime, A Children's Album By Barenaked Ladies

Reviewing: Artist: Barenaked Ladies Album: Snacktime  |  Rating:
mustangsally82 By mustangsally82 on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 11 | Music Expertise:

This is an album that is targeted at children: perhaps 8-10 year olds according to some online discussion boards. I’m certainly not that age and I have no children right now, but as a true Barenaked Ladies (BNL) fan I had to have it. There were also a lot of things that I learned about my favorite contemporary band, even though I’ve been a fan for almost ten years.

The artwork is partially done by band member Kevin Hearn. He’s been in the band for over 10 years but is the newest member. Some of you may remember that he missed the Stunt Tour in 1998 when BNL first made it in the United States because he was being treated for leukemia.

I was surprised to see a total of 24 tracks, but once I had the CD in my car’s player (I bought it at the mall and had to listen to it immediately) I knew why so many could fit on the CD: many songs are only a minute or two in length.

Snacktime leads off with a track sung primarily by Ed Robertson. Ed is generally considered to be almost an equal with Steven Page as the lead singers in the band, which is a departure from their earlier albums where Page did most of the singing on the tracks. The first song is called “789, ” and it’s a play on the idea that “seven ate nine” and the order of the numbers “seven, eight, nine.” I was kind of surprised at how ominous Ed makes his voice when he sings this song, but it works. It’s not too scary for kids, but it is a departure from how he usually sings.

Next up is “The Ninjas, ” sung by Steven Page. I have to admit that Steve is my favorite singer. This is an upbeat song about ninjas who are “deadly and silent, ” and “unspeakably violent.” I was amused to hear that the ninjas often vacation in Ireland as well.

I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy “Polliwog in a Bog” as much, as it was written and is sung by the bassist Jim Creegan. He has only had a few songs that have appeared on BNL albums, and I’ve not really been a fan of any of them. I can definitely appreciate his skills as a musician, but I think it can be likened to some of Ringo Starr’s early compositions: when you’re competing with Page and Robertson or Lennon/McCartney it’s hard to get a word in edgewise.

I do like this song, in spite of all that. The lyrics are intelligent enough to intrigue kids, but not too advanced. It kind of describes the life cycle of a frog. My favorite part, however, is when Ed says “ribbet, ribbet” in a frog-like voice. What guy doesn’t like making animal sounds?

Track 4 has a great beginning. It’s called “Raisins, ” and it grabs your attention right from the start with the intro of “Raisins come from grapes/People come from apes/I come from Canada.” I think most BNL fans will recognize that it’s not supposed to be a stance on evolutionism, but simply a funny idea and rhyme. This one is mostly sung by Ed as well.

The next song is one that undoubtedly most kids will love, but it’s a bit annoying for adults I think. It’s called “Eraser, ” and it starts with Kevin singing the word eraser (with a long emphasis on the first syllable that sounds something like this: “eeeeeeeeeeee.”). I liked the fact that all five band members alternate lyrics on this track, as they do on “Food Party” later on.

The song called "Drawing" was written by Kevin Hearn but is sung mostly by Steve. I don't know if I've ever heard him sing in quite this manner before, but it definitely reminded me of Elvis impersonators (but in a good way!). Other notable tracks include Track 14 called “My Big Sister.” I can see kids all over the world identifying with the opening line “I like my big sister/But I don’t want to wear her coat.” Track 15 is “Allergies, ” and it was another surprise for me as it was written by drummer Tyler Stewart. It took a few listens for me to become endeared to it, but now I like this song just as much as many others on this album.

“I Don’t Like” is the 16th song, and many fans will liken it to “If I Had $1, 000, 000” simply based on the lighthearted banter that takes place between Ed and Steve. I could listen to this song repeatedly all day and still never tire of it.

Track 18 is called “A Bad Day, ” and it touched me as the song with perhaps the most depth on the album. And I mean depth that kids can understand. It’s sung by Steve and I think many adults can identify with it as well (on a more complex level).

My standout favorite from my first listen was Track 23, entitled “Crazy ABCs.” It’s similar to “I Don’t Like” in that it has both Steve and Ed talking back and forth. The lyrics, however, are very entertaining. The first three lines are “A is for aisle/B is for bdellium/C is for Czar and if you see him would you mind telling him?” You have to turn the volume up on this track to catch all the little mumblings from Steve, however. I think kids especially will like the line where Ed says "R is for Argyle" and Steve says "No it isn't" in that same tone of voice that kids use when they're arguing with each other.

One of the reasons I love BNL so much is their intelligent yet catchy lyrics. The music isn’t half bad either, and in a recording industry where efforts seem to be made to blend all the instruments and tracks together so you can’t distinguish them, BNL’s musicianship is very refreshing. If you ever get the chance to see them in concert, run don’t walk! Their live performances are wonderful and can help you have a better appreciation at just how good they are even at improvising things on the spot.