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Steven Page is Truly Subpar Without the Barenaked Ladies

Steven Page, former singer for the Barenaked Ladies, has finished his first solo album since parting ways with the band in 2009.

The split was attributed to his reluctance to record another album with the band, but the decision was likely influenced by the threat of more bad press following his arrest for drug possession the year before.

So how'd he do?

Page One is not too far off from the classic Barenaked Ladies sound, but it's softer and more indie. Think "Call and Answer" rather than "One Week." The whole album sounds theatrical, as though the cast of Glee could be singing the entire thing. Unfortunately I found myself wondering what the hell I was listening to after nearly every single song.

The album kicks off with "A New Shore," a song about starting anew, perhaps about his solo career. It's a little too peppy and poppy, and by a little, I mean a lot. It sounds like a sailor's song, except the sailor isn't drunk; he's just a little too happy and nobody really knows why.

"Indecision" features high pitched backup vocals that resemble those of Hanson before they reached puberty. "My addiction to indecision keeps me here," he sings...more like your addiction to cocaine, but you can call it indecision if you want, Steven. This is the song he chose to be his first single? Are you kidding me?

A synthesizer contributes a sci-fi sound to "Entourage," in which Steven sings, "I want to sleep with you and your entourage tonight." Keep it in the pants, Page. Then out of left field comes a brief jazzy humming that sounds like it would be played in a French café. Until that point, the song halfway qualifies as a dance track. If only it had more bass, he might have a hit. He doesn't quite find the right electropop sound on "Queen of America" either, but at least he's making progress with that one.

After having suffered through the majority of the album, hearing "If You Love Me," a song that resembles "We Used to Be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols, was such a lovely surprise. Another track that uses other artists' flavors is "Leave Her Alone," which has a brass band backing up Page and a hint of Frank Sinatra throughout. It's danceable, or at the very least, it'll get your foot tapping. However, the xylophone on the slow-paced folk track "Clifton Springs" sounds like something Sufjan Stevens would contribute to...except Sufjan would do it better.

Overall, this album made me feel bad for Page. It sounded like a combination of whining and a cry for help. Once he has completely gotten his life back together, I think his work will be more impressive. Here's to sort of hoping for a better second solo album or, dare to dream, a BNL reunion.


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