Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
Warner made a slightly odd choice when they decided to release Maroon by the Barenaked Ladies. From the BNL back catalogue, this was not the most well received (such as Gordon, their first album was) nor as anticipated as Stunt, back in 1998. There was even a greatest hits compilation created in 2001, which would have been a more logical release from a fan base perspective. The reason might be perhaps that Maroon was chosen as it is the most recent studio outing from one of Canada’s premier music exports. It might also be that each instrument was recorded individually; making it a lot easier to create the DVD-Audio disc I have in front of me. Whatever the reason, this disc is a great introduction to DVD-Audio, whether you are a fan of the band or not.  

Maroon

Album
Officially containing 12 tracks (not included the extra unlisted track at the end of the album), this has really benefited from the high audio resolution multi-channel mixing which DVD-Audio can provide.

The disc contains a 5.1 DVD-Audio mix and a 2 channel mix for those without a full surround system. Since the 2 channel mix is provided, the discs’ producers saw it fit to prevent DVD-Audio players from down mixing the audio themselves and therefore if this is to be listened to on headphones, the 2 channel audio mix will have to be selected manually. Also provided is a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio option for people who wish to own the disc even if they do not currently own the hardware to listen to the advanced resolution DVD-Audio can provide.

Maroon

Falling for the First Time has a loud, sumptuous opening which quickly calms down to vocals and light music/percussion mainly from the front speakers. This is quite a high energy track and the pace of the verses is echoed in the explosive chorus which rocks all the surround speakers. The drums come mainly from the rear speakers, while the synthesiser seems to just come from the rear left only which only serves to add to the feeling of sitting in the middle of the band as they play around you. Vocals seem a little quieter here when compared to the rest of the album however it is just the production of this particular track. When compared to the original CD, it is easy to almost physically feel the extended depth the dynamic range of the DVD-Audio disc provides. The CD just sounds so flat after the DVD-Audio.   Pinch Me makes good use of all the available channels, using the fronts for the main vocals and the rears for some light keyboard playing and a little rhythm guitar. That is, until the chorus blasts through. Suddenly you are enveloped in a blanket of surround sound and when the second chorus is reached, backing vocals suddenly become apparent, melodiously floating in from behind.

Unfortunately I could not compare this to the Dolby Digital mix as if the player supports DVD-Audio, the Dolby Digital mix is not available to select. The only available audio streams selectable by my player were the multi channel and the two channel DVD-audio tracks. This seems to work both ways: a player without DVD-Audio capability cannot see the high resolution tracks on the disc, just the Dolby Digital ones.
 
Extras
As mentioned earlier, this disc has two DVD-Audio tracks, a 2 channel one, and a multi channel one. It also included a Dolby Digital 5.1 track for non DVD-Audio players. While the DVD-Audio tracks play, a picture is presented on screen along with the title being listened to and the three menu options – music index, previous track and next track - are made available. In keeping with the original CDs artwork, each still frame has a red, or possibly Maroon bar at the bottom which contains the menu options. Since DVD-Audio is capable of supporting more than one picture per track, it might have been nice if this feature was implemented. A music video would have alos been a welcome addition to this disc, however in the early stages of any format, we cannot hope for the world.

Three pages of credits are also available, in case you were interested in who was involved in making this disc as well as the band’s biography which also spans several pages.

Maroon

Overall
BNL are not my first choice when it comes to music. Nor my second for that matter, however this album is an eclectic mix of pop and rock with well written lyrics covering many topics including a car accident arrived at by speeding in the slightly morbid Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel, and it makes a great DVD-Audio disc. I did not dislike this music; I just didn’t go wobbly at the knees when it arrived. However the sheer audio fidelity this album provides will make me listen to it more than I originally thought I would, just so I can appreciate the sound quality. A sterling effort Warner which will not only be enjoyed by BNL fans, but also by people aching for a top notch DVD-Audio disc.






The reviewer would like to thank Alex Cook for the original CD to use as a comparison.


Links: