Barenaked Ladies' third album, Born on a Pirate Ship, recorded during a period of personnel instability and misgivings over the band's artistic direction, is by far the Toronto group's weakest effort. The few attempts at humor in the manner of 1992's Gordon tend to sound forced, and the inclusion of reworked versions of early material like "Shoe Box," which had originally appeared on the band's 1990 demo, suggests that primary songwriters Steven Page and Ed Robertson were short of material. That said, there are a few winners amid the dross, with the wistful "The Old Apartment" and the tender Robertson ballad "When I Fall" further developing the group's ability to wring tenderness and angst out of unexpected situations. Jim Creeggan's "Spider in My Room," on the other hand, is just silly. Barenaked Ladies would finally break through to an American audience with their next release, the live sampler Rock Spectacle, which features better-sounding versions of some of this album's stronger tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason