Our Lady Peace – Burn Burn


Love them or hate them Our Lady Peace has had a pretty fascinating career. With the staying power of post-apocalyptic cockroaches OLP has survived a lifetime’s worth of middling reviews its lead singer’s marriage to a piano-pop chanteuse and the inevitable Bob Rock-produced comeback attempt. The band’s early days saw it crowding MuchMusic airwaves alongside its grunge-lite peers in Moist and its latter ones find it aspiring to Nickelback-level fame with anthems that are well as safe as Nickelback.

OLP’s earliest albums Naveed and Clumsy showed off a band that was delightfully off-key and charmingly quirky. Their songs were weird ill structured and poorly performed and that’s exactly what earned you success in the mid-’90s. This was the band’s commercial peak. Arguably its creative peak was the mightily ignored Spiritual Machines a futurist concept album that was well reviewed but sold poorly. At that point OLP sacked its longtime producer enlisted Bob Rock and released Gravity . If Our Lady Peace can be said to have eras this was a new one — an obvious grab for south-of-the-border fame that was unfortunately just successful enough for the band to continue on that path. That was in 2002.

Now in 2009 frontman Raine Maida is selling Burn Burn as a return to the band’s mid-’90s sound. It’s an interesting strategy considering the album has almost nothing in common with Naveed and sounds more like a continuation of OLP’s 2005 album Healthy in Paranoid Times . Lead single “All You Did Was Save My Life” relies on a painfully predictable melody from the opening note only made interesting by the fact that it’s nearly indistinguishable from “This is Where We Begin.” “Dreamland” is a crack at a wistful piano ballad but the band doesn’t have the guts to see it through. The only left-of-centre moment is “Monkey Brains” the only song that perhaps would’ve fit comfortably in the band’s back catalogue. At this point it feels more like a vain stab at nostalgia than a realistic artistic statement.

Our Lady Peace has outlasted its peers and in many cases is still outselling its contemporaries. Somehow it’s done all this while being critically inconsequential and while Maida has assumed the public persona of a dour asshole. While the band tries to sell Burn Burn as a “new old” direction the only phrase that really comes to mind is “same old.”