Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
On the former Barenaked Ladies frontman’s first solo effort since his high profile booger sugar bust and split from his longtime musical compatriots, Steven Page comes off like an ex-girlfriend who just got a really hot post-breakup makeover. As opposed to the remaining Ladies’ bitter post-split single “You Run Away,” in which the band slings mud at their departed brainchild, Page One (out today via Anthem and Universal) lets bygones be bygones, featuring twelves upbeat, eclectic pop ditties that mostly forgo the woe-is-me-isms to focus on (ahem, duh) turning the page.
Of course, Page still addresses his trials and tribulations here, but does so whilst maintaining an immutable, ear-to-ear smile. On the giddy, grandiosely orchestrated opener “A New Shore” (streaming right), he confronts the breakup nonchalantly, quipping, “I forget if I was pushed or I jumped overboard/And after all this time what’s the difference?” “Over Joy” recounts Page’s battles with depression lyrically, but instrumentally, it’s a sunshiny tune channeling The Beatles at their most chipper. And though the initial nuptial cynicism of “All the Young Monogamists” hearkens to his divorce from Carolyn Ricketts, by the end of the song, Page raises the sabre of matrimony with unflinching resolve (“I will always be true to you”).
The over-the-top optimism verges on grating (especially during the happy-go-lucky synth-pop of “If You Love Me”), but Page One’s subtle sarcasm and ceaseless genre-shifting keep things fresh. Underpinned by a whimsical, Bryan Wilson–eqsue songwriting approach, the record traverses the realms of power pop, big-band jazz, electronica, and country waltz with playful bombast, indicating the man is enjoying his new-found freedom. By the record’s end, he even relinquishes his vices (“No cocaine and discos/I gave that all up for the chorus, girl”), signalling a return to the Disney-approved, Prius-driving, public school–supporting do-gooder soccer moms all know and love. Ed Robertson must be boning up on “Get Your Ex Back” strategies right now.