I want to love Curve. Our Lady Peace played a key role during this critic’s (and probably many readers’) formative years, including the time I gave my first valentine a bouquet of chocolate flowers with 90’s hit “Clumsy” soundtracking the sweaty-palmed affair. Unfortunately, some bands cannot transcend an era; Our Lady Peace retain much of their once popular sound on Curve but try to update it with studio wizardry, soaring U2 choruses, and soulless metal riffs akin to Creed. Yes, this would surely melt those chocolate flowers into a disappointing puddle.
The Canadian stalwarts keep on keeping on, much to their credit, largely sticking to the sound that gave them their time atop the alt-rock radio charts in 1997. Most notably, lead vocalist Raine Maida’s prowess remains intact, sounding like Robert Plant after smoking a carton of Lucky Strikes and several Quaaludes.
Curve, the band’s eighth studio album, kicks off with a Jimi Hendrix national anthem-like riff, followed by a rollicking drumbeat. The classic rock momentum promptly halts as Our Lady Peace lead into the frantic, bass-driven “Fire in the Henhouse”. The track and Maida’s vocals channel Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead (see also: “Window Seat”) to mediocre effect. There isn’t anything embarrassing on Curve, yet Our Lady Peace find themselves constantly swimming in someone else’s pool. Even at their best, “Clumsy” was just Oasis’s “Wonderwall” with a harder rock edge. On Curve, their influences seem ancient.
The lone highlight, the handclap-driven “As Fast as You Can”, shows the band harnessing their power pop prowess, with Maida hitting a Bono scream on the chorus. It’s unoriginal, sure, but it represents the best that that the current Our Lady Peace have to offer.
Curve finds the band rehashing other artists’ creative moments in the sun but never making anything their own. Our Lady Peace may have the best intentions, but good intentions alone do not an album make.
Essential Tracks: “As Fast as You Can”