Think middle-class, well-adjusted Canadians. Think cheesy grin, folky pop songs that make 25-something, graduate couples in sensible shoes stomp and cheer along and enjoy going to gigs again. More than likely, the Barenaked Ladies (right) spring to mind. The Ladies as was, that is.

'It's sometimes bitter, without being dour or morose,' vocalist/guitarist Steven Page opines about the new album, Maybe You Should Drive (WEA). 'The humour I think we were known for is now subtler, and there aren't quite as many cartoonish references. It's not over-serious, but it's a little more confident - we don't feel we have to show off quite as much.'

Things have looked quiet for Barenaked Ladies of late, but it merely appeared that way. After four months off to recover from successive gruelling North American and European tours plugging last album Gordon (WEA), they laid down the second album tracks in the spring. And now gig stints return: they're in London this week. The cute 'Canadian Housemartins tag, however, is likely to drop off completely now.

Take new song 'Everything Old is New Again, which Page says revolves around the media's Generation X 'scam'. 'Elements of it do exist,' he admits. 'I feel weird because I make my living in a band, yet a lot of my friends went to university, got their degrees and now work in The Gap. I sometimes feel we are the Prince Charles generation. But a lot of the frustration is made up by Time Magazine and MTV.'

You get the feeling he's glad that the band is coming back to the UK. 'I think people in England have more of a 'been there, done that' mentality, and we have to work hard to win them over,' he enthuses. True, but win cynics' hearts over they do. They are welcome anytime.

(Photograph omitted)