Our Lady Peace

Spiritual Machines II

Written by: PP on 22/02/2022 20:32:50

Canadian alternative rock band Our Lady Peace released a few seminal masterpieces early on during their career. Their first three albums "Naveed" (1993), "Clumsy" (1997), and "Happiness...Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch" (1999) are genre classics and feature songs that most readers of this magazine will have heard either knowingly or unknowingly over the course of their music enthusiast years. Back in 2000 the band then abruptly changed their style to release a complicated conceptual interpretation of futurist Raymond Kurzweil's 1999 book "The Age Of Spiritual Machines". It was a far more ambitious and experimental undertaking that sacrificed their trademark hooks with an attempt at adding depth and complexity to their sound.

Predictably, the stylistic change split the crowds and critics in two: some were confused about what the band was trying to achieve with such a prolific leap onto sci-fi, while others acclaimed the band's evolution and internal challenge as musicians. While we can all agree it's a decent album, it's nowhere near their best, so why the band decided to resurrect the concept twenty-two years later on "Spiritual Machines II" is a bit of a mystery.

Much like the original, the follow-up combines the band's knack for writing mature, contemporary rock with more progressive song structures, and experimentation with electronics and noisy cacophony. Much like Muse before them, the band explores enormously spacious soundscapes with Raine Maida's unique clean vocals pushed slightly away from the driver's seat in favour of free-form explorative musicianship like that on "19 Days" or on "The Message", for instance.

Here, Our Lady Peace continues to be enjoyable, albeit somewhat confusing in what they are exactly trying to achieve. A direct comparison is found on album highlight "Wish You Well", which is one of those soothingly beautiful alternative rock tracks where Maida's performance borders incredible, and the rest of the band fulfills their potential through a loud, multi-instrumental expression that results in a back-chilling expression overall. Similarly, the pop-rock godhood of "Good Die Young" is exactly the kind of melody that you want from this band,

Unfortunately, large swathes of the album are instead spent on artistic exploration and a backward look at the predictions of Raymond Kurzweil during the 90s. Subsequently, "Spiritual Machines II" is an interesting album with plenty of decent material, but also a frustratingly mediocre one where the negative connotation of contemporary rock comes to light all too often. Too few tracks stand out and most just stroll forward in varying degrees of structural depth and complex arrangement, but fail to capture your attention in the long run.

Download: Wish You Well, Holes, Stop Making Stupid People Famous, Future Disease
For the fans of: Muse, Incubus
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.04.2022
Shelter Music Group

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