[12 March 2001]
It’s hard to know how to feel about Our Lady Peace. They have they appearance of a rock band who believes themselves to be better than they are. At every moment, they act like they’re deeper than the approachable mainstream rock they play. The spoken word excerpts from author/inventor Ray Kurzweil give Spiritual Machines an air of arrogance, as if Our Lady Peace wants everyone to know just how significant this recording is. All of this would be irritating if Our Lady Peace didn’t manage to be so good.
They still tend to sink into self-importance in terms of the sorts of messages they convey, but there is an underlying honesty about Our Lady Peace. Sure, they may act like they’re better than everyone, but in a time where most male-dominated rock bands are singing about partying and getting laid, their desire to communicate more thoughtful expressions is admirable, even when it’s obvious they’re trying too hard.
Carried by the distinctive voice of lead singer Raine Maida, Our Lady Peace is constantly searching for sensitivity and understanding in the modern world on Spiritual Machines, or at least, that’s what they want you to think. Mostly, these are just sweetly sympathetic little songs about relationships. With overly earnest vocals and instrumentation, it’s doubtful anyone in the world is actually this compassionate, but with lines like “Stop pretending when they say that you’re nothing” from “Are You Sad?” Our Lady Peace at least has their heart in the right place.
What seems to keep Our Lady Peace from sinking is that they never actually come across as whiny (despite Maida’s voice). They back up their lyrics with enough driving beats and angry guitars to give these songs more of an edge, like on “Everyone’s a Junkie”. They’re still custom made for mainstream modern rock listeners, but even in their weaker moments, they’re pushing themselves farther than most.
Our Lady Peace isn’t perfect, and neither is Spiritual Machines, but when the world is filled with bands that barely seem to bother, the fact that Our Lady Peace is trying to be more than they are is commendable, even when they don’t entirely succeed.