Our Lady Peace – [Album]

Monday, 30 April 2012

As I flipped through the endless number of TV channels on cable yesterday, I started to wonder if musicians had just thrown in the towel and called it quits. More and more, I was finding singers tied into corporate commercials and TV shows where they try to sell their single at the end. Such a gimmick isn't a bad marketing ploy I suppose, but rarely do I find anything worth my hard-earned ninety-nine cents. Does anybody else cringe when they hear Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts?" It's like they took a random word generator, turned the dial to 'Sappy,' and let the results flow on top of generic background music. Perhaps this is the result of a decade's worth of American Idol karaoke contests guiding popular music, or perhaps that's what kids are into these days and I'm just getting old.

That it's now impossible not to recognize the vacuous and seemingly pre-fabricated tone of pop in the twenty-first century is why it's nice (and perhaps a bit of a relief) to pick up a new album and hear lyrics that are actually lyrical. Curve, the latest album from veteran alt-rockers Our Lady Peace, offered just that to my weary ears. Frontman Raine Maida knows how to write a song, which unfortunately is more than I can say for some out there these days. After twenty years and a lineup change, OLP has proven that they're still able to deliver a solid effort with their eighth studio album that fans of the genre should enjoy. 

While I'm not terribly well-versed with the full catalog of Our Lady Peace, I am certainly familiar with a number of their hits from back in the day. "Somewhere Out There" is the obvious single that jumps to mind, along with perhaps "Starseed." Both were solid alternative rock songs that could compete with anything else coming out in the genre at the time. Ten years later, I've re-discovered OLP, but now they have a very different sound – I had to go back and re-listen to those older songs to make sure I was thinking of the right band. Apparently this new sound is nothing new, it's just me that's lost touch with the band over the years. 

Curve quickly reminded me of another album I picked up recently: Snow Patrol's Fallen Empires; not quite the alt-rock that I had anticipated, but solid nonetheless. “Heavyweight” was the first single that was released a few months back, and it's probably the standout track of the album. Of the ten songs on Curve, it offers the closest return to their rock roots and sounds more like what I expected from the band. Meanwhile, “If This Is It” embraces the newer sound and could offer a lesson in how to write a heartbreak song to some of the aforementioned newer musicians.

While the first half of the album is pretty solid, the second strays a bit into a more experimental sound. “Mettle,” the slow, brooding final track on the album, takes quotes from some sort of boxing movie (that I should probably recognize but don’t) and plays them over an acoustic guitar and violins. If there is a deep meaning to the song that ties the record together, it wasn’t apparent to me, which left the album ending on a whimper rather than a bang.

While the record's end leaves an end to be desired, there is a good amount of quality music on Curve, and that’s coming from someone who wouldn’t call himself a huge fan. I certainly like their earlier work better, but if you’re a fan of what Our Lady Peace has been doing for the past ten years (or if you're a fan of similar sounding acts like Snow Patrol, One Republic or perhaps some of the newer U2), Curve would be worth your time and money.



Curve is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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