Our Lady Peace

Burn Burn

Written by: PP on 28/12/2009 03:22:27

A period existed between 1994 and 2003 where Our Lady Peace was by far the most underrated Canadian band. With nearly zero European exposure, music fans on this side of the pond missed out on such defining alternative rock classics as "Superman's Dead", "4 A.M", "One Man Army", "Is Anybody Home?", "Thief", "Lying Awake", "Stealing Babies" among many others whilst the band shifted millions of records in North America (okay, mostly in Canada, but still). To date, I still haven't heard a band who sounds just like Our Lady Peace's older material. But then the band changed with "Gravity", which had a couple of great tracks but way too much filler. "Healthy In Paranoid Times" followed in 2005, an album I didn't even bother to check out because of the miserable reviews it received, and now the band's ready with their seventh studio album, "Burn Burn". All three of these albums have received moderate promotion here in Europe, but with the quirky brilliance of their old material missing, the band hasn't really caught onto European audiences even as we're entering to the next decade.

"Burn Burn" starts off promisingly with Raine's instantly recognizable croon on "All You Did Was Save My Life". It's no "Superman's Dead", but the chorus is enjoyable and likely to enter a greatest hits compilation one day. The real gem of the record, however, is the second track "Dreamland", which has quintessential Our Lady Peace classic written all over it despite the obvious Coldplay's "Life In Technicolor"-meets-My Chemical Romance's "Black Parade" reference. It's almost balladic in nature, but then again, OLP have always been best at using subtle song structures to create intensely emotional songs. The strange thing is that the best OLP songs don't necessarily need to be catchy, because the verses, the vocal dynamics, and the guitars take care of all the details that make up a great song. Unfortunately this pattern isn't carried on through the rest of the album with the exception of the hard hitting "Monkey Brains".

One of the strengths of OLP has always been their solid trust in their own songs. So instead of sugarcoating their songs with infectious choruses, the band has relied on deep song structures that required a little more from the listener to figure out, but once the song opened up, rest assured the listener was overwhelmingly connected to the song for months, if not years to come. In contrast, on "Burn Burn", the band has taken the opposite path, trying to ape bands like 30 Seconds To Mars ("Escape Artist"), and U2 ("Refuge"), as well as distrusting in the listener's ability to decode the songs. Consequently, many of the tracks, like "Never Get Over You", venture even further towards a generic mainstream rock sound, something that was never the case on the band's earlier output. The final track, "Paper Moon", is one of the few exceptions where the band doesn't go for a chart & radio-friendly approach, instead allowing Raine to lure the listener in with his curious use of grungy vocal style and fast, quirky changes in pitch, while the instruments are a tad bit more intelligent than on the rest of the albums as well. To me, it sounds like the band isn't entirely sure of what their strengths are anymore.

In the end, "Burn Burn" isn't terrible, but it's just such a far cry from records like "Happiness...Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch", a genre classic, "Clumsy", one of the most intelligent commercial rock records to date, or even "Naveed", the band's much praised debut album. At the same time, it's not even a radio rock record so it's not likely the band will receive much airplay outside of the Canadian borders. It simply sounds like a record where the band is slightly tired and uninspired, almost completely lacking the ability to touch the listener emotionally, which was once considered to be the reason why Our Lady Peace developed such a cult following.

6

Download: All You Did Was Save My Life, Dreamland
For the fans of: Bush, Incubus, Matthew Good Band, Coldplay
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.07.2009
Coalition Entertainment

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