Detour de Force

Jul 15, 2021
Web Exclusive

By Hayden Godfrey

Barenaked Ladies, they of acoustic guitars, ’90s fashion, and a hearty double bass, have always carefully toed the line between earnest, tender alt-rockers and tongue-in-cheek suburban jokers. Neither tone is bad or unruly, but, on every individual record the band has put out since 1992, one of those personalities always dominates the other.

On Detour de Force, the former takes hold, but their more smart-alecky side is allowed to breathe adequately. Still, it lacks sufficient substance, at times feeling dull and flat.

While certainly catchy, most of the record’s tracks are too generic (“Roll Out,” “God Forbid”), too simple (“Flip,” “Man Made Lake”), or too childish in lyrical content (“Bylaw,” “Big Back Yard”). “Live Well” may be wonderfully harmonious and “New Disaster” may exhibit the cleverness fans of the Ladies have come to love, but the album is, as a whole, pretty underwhelming.

Detour de Force is, to some extent, Barenaked Ladies as they’ve always been known: witty, accessible, and friendly. Sure, those sentiments are more concisely and satisfyingly expressed on some of their earlier, more energetic records, but their latest is a decent entry into their quintessentially Canadian discography that casual listeners will tolerate and fans will like. (

Author rating: 5/10

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