Like many bands saddled with a novelty tag, maturity was never going to be easy for Barenaked Ladies, but their problems were compounded by the 2009 departure of Steven Page, one of the band’s two main songwriters. The other, Ed Robertson, is the undisputed leader as of 2010’s All in Good Time, but used to constant collaboration, he shares the spotlight with keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bassist Jim Creeggan, who combined sing five of the 14 songs here. It’s not so much that Robertson is reluctant to seize control but rather that democracy is deeply ingrained in BNL’s DNA, so much so that they couldn’t use the departure of a co-founder as an excuse to restructure their workflow chart. What they could do -- and did indeed wind up doing -- is use Page’s departure as a way to ease away from cutesy jokes and toward a candy-coated maturity, one that’s all about shimmering surface instead of singalong chants. Sometimes the band still kicks up a little bit of a rhythm or snark -- the former in the diluted Foo Fighters homage “How Long,” the latter in some not-so-veiled jabs at Page and the shambling country-rock deconstruction of “Jerome” -- but All in Good Time glides gently, offering well-tailored lifestyle music for settled Gen-Xers. Whether those thirtysomethings are looking to Barenaked Ladies to provide a soundtrack to their lives as parents with pensions -- the very presence of their 2008 children's album Snacktime! suggests they may -- is an open question, but All in Good Time winds up being good music for a quiet Sunday afternoon at home, not at all unlike how Stunt played in the background of college parties at the tail end of the '90s.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine