Our Lady Peace

Curve

Written by: PP on 07/08/2012 06:49:24

Canada's alternative rock staple Our Lady Peace was close to becoming a non-factor on their 2009 album "Burn Burn", where they sounded tired and uninspired with their own music, certainly a long shot from the 90s classics "Naveed", "Clumsy", and "Happiness...Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch" which catapulted the band into mainstream success and millions of albums sold. Preceding album "Healthy In Paranoid Times" received mixed reviews from the critics, so the band was in real danger of becoming one of those nostalgia bands that you go see in the hopes of them playing mostly old material. Prior to the recording of their eighth studio album "Curve", Jason Lader, a close friend of the band, criticized the new material and asked them "why don't you make a record that you would listen to?" instead of apparently writing on autopilot, which was a major reason why "Burn Burn" was as mediocre as it was in contrast to their strong back catalogue. All written songs were subsequently ditched, and the results are staggering on "Curve": even though the band isn't nearing their classic-era material, these ten songs are the finest OLP material since at least 2002's "Gravity", and one were they are audibly reinvigorated and refreshed as songwriters.

So if "Burn Burn" saw the band experiment with a more commercial, mainstream oriented sound without too much success, partially because the band were never that generic in the first place and partially because they didn't fully commit to the sound, "Curve" sees the band go all-out on soundscape experimentation. Gone are the quirky and smart alternative rock tunes of the old days, replaced by ambitious songwriting that takes its inspiration from Muse's grandiose arrangements. The first few tracks in particular own a majestic, outer space type of sound that's more progressive than catchy, while still retaining the signature intelligence of the band's previous material. While I'm not usually the one to praise change in bands, OLP here show glimpses where their songwriting is taken to the next level from 'that quirky 90s oriented alt rock band' into something bigger. That is not to say that these songs are better or even as good as those from "Gravity" and before, but there's no arguing that they are better composed from a technical perspective and have potential for a larger audience than in the past.

"Fire In The Henhouse" and "Heavyweight", for instance, are enormous in their capacity, easily filling stadium-sized arenas with their colossal sounds without sounding over-inflated or pompous. "As Fast As You Can" is another example, although here the band source U2 style echoing soundscapes and uplifting songs instead. Hints and nuances of their trademark melodies are still present, they are just presented in a more theatrical and colossal soundscape than usual, and of course this allows their already unique vocalist Raine Maida to really shine with his reach and singing talent.

Unfortunately what starts out as a great album quickly dwindles down into merely a decent one due to a much weaker second half, where the band experiments with their sound much more than is necessary for their own good. The acoustic guitar driven oddity "Windowseat", or the somber mood of "Will Someday Change" just aren't very interesting, because quiet melodies and piano-driven soundscapes have never been the strength of OLP and especially not when placed in such a direct contrast with the larger-than-life soundscapes of the first half of the album. "Mettle" is equally forgettable, and as such the band is left with about 50/50 cut with great and average songs as the album's final notes land. It's a step in the right direction, but we know that OLP are capable of much better.

7

Download: Fire In The Henhouse, Heavyweight, As Fast As You Can
For the fans of: Muse, U2
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.04.2012
Warner Music

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