Saturday, August 1, 2009

Like that friend we all have...

You know that friend that was there for you a lot in the past? You had a lot of great times, maybe had a moment or two... but then, one day, that friend changed. At first, you figured it was just a phase. Underneath it all, the friend was still the same. But outrageous happening after outrageous happening, you start to find you can't hang out with this friend as much anymore. You still defend him.her, but even you have to shake your head. And more than anything, you keep hoping that friend will go back to being the way it used to be.

That is how I feel about Our Lady Peace.

Let us go back to 1994. Remember 1994? I loved me all my grunge music, but this - this - was something unique.

Starseed - Our Lady Peace

Had all the heavy stuff I liked, but had a nice unique sound to it. And they were Canadian, which meant they weren't getting heavy U.S. airplay. But they were getting HUGE in Canada. If you were an American fan of OLP, it was like being clued in to some great secret.

In 1998 or so, I saw them open for Third Eye Blind in Philly. There was maybe 200 people there for the OLP set. It was incredible. This band that regularly played to 15,000 up north was our own little house band for 50 minutes.

Lead singer Raine Maida's falsetto was, granted, not for everyone. But songs like this were like nothing else on the radio when I was in college:

Potato Girl - Our Lady Peace

In 2000, they releases Spiritual Machines, a tremendous fourth album that knocked my socks off. When their drummer fell ill, Pearl Jam's Matt Cameron filled in. It was bliss.

Then, apparently wishing for USA success, they ditched everything and went to Hawaii to record with Bob Rock of Metallica fame. The first sign this was going badly was when their founding guitarist left the band. The next sign this was going badly was Gravity, the resulting album. It was, needless to say, deritivie from the start:

All For You - Our Lady Peace

Still there were a handful of moments on the album where you could still hear the band that I had loved for many years. I hoped it was a one-album dalliance. But no.

Then came Healthy in Paranoid Times. In fairness, the first two songs on there got my hopes up, especially the album opener. But from there... it was all "we're Our Lady Peace. And we're a big-time rock band."

What the world didn't need was another sloggy, "dark" rock band in the vein of - dare I say - fellow Canadians Nickelback. And to my great horror, one night, there was David Cook on American Idol, singing "Innocent" by Our Lady Peace. Kill. Me.

Last month, Our Lady Peace put out its latest Burn Burn. Some in the press are heralding it as a return to form. Apparently, they didn't listen to the album. Or, if they did, only to the very end. In the last song, "Paper Moon," we get a brief throwback to Raine's falsetto tricks that made this band sound like, well, Our Lady Peace.

Sure, there are some standard rock anthems on this new disc. But there's nothing there that comes close to the excitement of the past.

And like that old good friend, I wait for things to go back to the old way...

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