Our Lady Peace - Burn Burn
Record Label: Coalition/Warner Music Group
Release Date: July 21, 2009
With every new decade comes change and growth in nearly each facet of our daily lives. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, as does what we view on movie screens & television alike. When it comes to music, the change is so constant and sudden, sometimes we aren't even stunned by the idea of genre-hopping in the mainstream. It just sort of... well, happens.
In the 1960's, pop music played around with being 'bubblegum,' soon colliding with R&B/funk to create disco. Out of the blues came groove-oriented hard rock, and subsequently, heavy metal. This all came to create progressive rock and Southern rock by the time the 1970's came to a close, which then let new wave & hip-hop take center stage. As the 1980's began to draw its curtains, metal became grunge, which morphed into your standard hard rock. Okay, maybe genre evolution hasn't done anything too spectacular or blown anyone's minds as of late, however at the moment, it appears music by-the-numbers is what sells -- and when you are running a record label, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, am I right? Now, that's certainly no excuse for any of the several worthless acts filling up radio station playlists, but it does work in some cases.
For longtime Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace, the only thing that has ultimately changed has been their ability to sound mainstream. Their last two releases have arguably been their least creative, but most radio-friendly. After four years of anticipation, the multi-platinum band ditched Bob Rock's arena-rock production and swore to return to their Naveed roots. By that, they meant a rawer, more cohesive sound... and maybe four million records sold up in the Great White North. The idea that your basic alternative rock band that found a great amount of success ten years ago can achieve such heights again is all based upon perspective -- but frankly, for as well as it is executed on the band's seventh full-length release, Burn Burn, this sound just doesn't feel fresh.
That isn't to say Our Lady Peace is worthy of dismissal -- they write those types of poetic, woeful love songs bands like Theory of a Deadman and Saving Abel dream they could compose without having to refer to sex in some way. Vocalist Raine Maida has matured enough (both vocally and lyrically) to write heartfelt ballads that ring of great vulnerability and vast appreciation for, well, love itself. "All You Did Was Save My Life" (which surely would have been a big hit stateside ten years back) speaks from the heart of a lovelorn man exposing himself. "But like a singer who sings the blues / You saw hope in the hopeless," sings Maida. "White Flags" feels a tad lackadaisical in the lyrical department, but the theme it presents is the sort of bombastic, all-hope-is-lost-except-for-our-love thing Maida relishes.
"Monkey Brains" is like finding an onion ring in a box of fries: it doesn't feel that out of place, but somehow, you know it wasn't meant to be with the rest of the fries. It has such a groove to it (provided by Duncan Coutts' rumbling bass), and feels so unabashedly dark & tribal, it stands out in a strange way. Compared to the other nine tracks, many of which are sincere love songs, it throws a monkey wrench into the order of things (see what I did there? Impressive, huh?). Kept sturdy by a constant drum & bass rhythm, it does have an even flow to it... just not one like Naveed had. The band has settled upon somewhere in the middle, not quite as dark as Spiritual Machines yet not as steady as Naveed; Burn Burn is just a very mature effort from a band that lost it's real hard-rockin' legs some time ago.
"Dreamland" is the kind of song the band wrote back when "Clumsy" was a radio hit, and "Refuge" has a bass drum rhythm reminiscent of their experimental phase -- yet it also manages to come off as a slow-moving ballad. This is essentially the back-and-forth mambo dance the band provides over ten tracks, never going too far back and staying there, but instead crossing over everything else they have done. "Escape Artist" contains a hint of a country-fried, somber melody, and "Never Get Over You" may as well be the sequel to Gravity's "Somewhere Out There," with it's torch proudly waving high over the citizens of Balladtown. It's not at all bad, it's simply nothing all that exciting (although, the current crop of radio rock rebels does leave plenty to be desired). For fans, it's a step up from the last release, however all Burn Burn proves to the casual listener is that Our Lady Peace is simply rearranging their return rather than digging up new ground for another fresh start.
I was really hoping for something less contemporary rock and more Spiritual Machines/Happiness.. I haven't gotten a chance to listen to any full songs except the single and I didn't care for it much at all. Judging from the samples on Amazon, Paper Moon sounds the most like the OLP I loved.
Yeah, both those albums are terrific. Somewhat mainstream, yet still pretty experimental. I think Bob Rock shifted their gears.
I'd say they chose Bob Rock because they wanted to shift their gears. Mike Turner obviously didn't agree and they politely kicked him to the curb.
I've only listened to this album a couple of times but it didn't grab me on either occasion. I've warmed to the single a little, and I've heard snippets of lyrics that suggest Raine is still at full-thrust, but I can't see myself loving this the way I did Naveed, Happiness or even Gravity (corporate dick rock though it is, it meant something to me).
Mazur barely makes his presence felt here, which is why I said it's very rhythmic. Never seen 'em live actually -- how is Raine live?
He's great. I saw them in Atlanta maybe 2 years ago, Coheed opened. Raine sounded fantastic, the crowd sang a lot, and he even climbed up into the balcony during the encore. They usually have a great mix of older and newer songs, and they pull it off live almost flawlessly.