From the inner sleeve of Healthy in Paranoid Times, the sixth album in a
glorious ten year stretch from Toronto’s Our Lady Peace: 43 songs were written
and recorded over a period of 1,165 days, 6,000 gigabytes of hard drive storage
were needed to save the songs, 58 packages of guitar strings were used, $11,000
of food was spent on the band, 30 active wars were fought across the globe, 19.2
million people had cosmetic surgery in North America, 2,000 American soldiers
died in Iraq, 6,708 hours of TV was watched by the average child, 138 million
people ate at McDonald’s, $38 billion was spent on pornography, 4.8 million
children took Ritalin, and 42 insects were swallowed by the average person while
sleeping. And so I ask you, Bullz-Eye.com reader, who among us is average?
So much has transpired since mid-2002 when Our Lady Peace released the
ultra-commercial, Bob Rock produced pearl Gravity. Against all odds, the four
Canadians have shouldered industry hardships, endured intra-band struggles, and
emerged from an extended lay-off with 12 songs that are more mature and
thought-provoking, even if less glossy or easy on the ear, than anything they’ve
proffered before. Take the ballad-like mid-tempo ditty “Boy,” in which Raine
Maida urges, “It’s time for forgiveness, it’s time for relief / It’s time
that we wasted, it’s time that we need / It’s time for decision, it’s time to be
brave / It’s the time of your life, don’t let it slip away.” By all means,
this is as close to a Bono-like statement as these relatively unknown Canadians
have ever made. They don’t blow their load on just one cut either, as “Walking
in Circles” and “Will the Future Blame Us” recall the very best of modern rock
radio circa early to mid ‘90s.
The album’s first single, “Where Are You,” clearly inspired by Maida’s recent
Good Samaritan tour of war-torn Sudan and Iraq, practically begs for exposure.
“I thought it was a culture shock going over to these places,” the enlightened
front man confessed in a recent interview, “but the real shock was coming back
home.” While the band’s renewed conviction and global sensibility are
refreshing, it’s the return to a grittier, more impulsive sound (ala 1997’s
Clumsy) that lifts Healthy in Paranoid Times above other OLP
offerings. Still, sloppy missteps like “Wipe That Smile Off Your Face” and an
experiment in giddiness (“The World on a String”), which comes off like a bad
Monkees cover, keep this new outing from earning a top-notch mark.
At the end of the day, Our Lady Peace remains a steadfast figure in a vanishing
landscape. They continue to produce their music (six records in a decade) on
their terms (three years off) and transcend generational partiality (Puddle of
Mudd has long since come and gone) in a manner that thousands of
Johnny-come-lately bands could only dream of. Jeremy Taggart told me in a recent
chat that he considers himself so fortunate to be able to play music for a
living. “It’s not like we have a money tree in the back yard, we do this because
we love it,” Taggart confessed. If we could all be so lucky!