Canadian alternative rock band Our Lady Peace have had something of a weird career, their early albums bringing forward an enjoyable late nineties grunge sound with singer Raine Maida’s unique voice at the centre of it, before evolving (or devolving, depending on how you look at it) into a much more commercial emo vibe and finally, with Curve, going down an ultimately lighter, more chilled-out route altogether.
Ironically, the album opens with an atmospheric yet instantly forgettable song, “Allowance”, which, despite having a Pearl Jam-esque feel to it, lacks a catchy chorus and some energy. “Fire In The Henhouse” is the second track on the album and it actually has a pretty good chorus as well as a cool bass-line despite being a little repetitive.
A couple of songs have a sort of Coldplay-style quality to them such as “Window Seat”, a slower track with some nice moments in there but, ultimately, it’s one that’s very easy to space out to and it’ll likely fail to grab you much. Also, “Will Someday Change”, another slower song, this time with a bit more piano and a quieter guitar supporting. That one, however, is a bit darker, a bit moodier and has a genuinely decent melody. It’s simple but effective.
The third song on the album is single “Heavyweight” and it pretty much personifies what’s wrong with this particular album: it’s got an involving build-up, a chorus with potential but it just lacks bite and ends up falling a tad flat. “As Fast As You Can” also kicks in straight away but, again, the song loses pace quick and, as a whole, it’s just too light and messy of an effort to really be worth it. There’s no real vision there.
The sixth track on the album, “If This Is It”, almost lost me nearly instantly but it just about got me back when more instruments showed up to decorate the song a little. That said, the chorus was disappointingly bland and just didn’t do anything for me. Another uneven tune is “Find Our Way”: it’s got an explosive start which kinda reminded me of the likes of Kasabian, that type of indie band anyway, but it turns out that this chunk of the song comes up here and there only briefly. Predominantly, the song is filled with cheesy-sounding verses which pretty much killed it for me.
The last two songs, “Rabbits” and “Mettle”, should really have been the saving graces of the album. You can start something weakly but as long as you end it strong, it tends to even things out. Unfortunately, “Rabbits” is whiny and criminally dull and by the time “Mettle” waltzes in with vocal excepts from Canadian boxer George Chuvalo (he’s also the guy on the album cover) and manages to be about as uninvolving as the song before it, you’ll feel like Curve has officially given up.
The band’s singer called this album “more experimental and ambitious” and, although, in a way, it is more experimental as in it tries something the band hasn’t tried before, it certainly doesn’t feel ambitious. If anything, parts of it just feel flat out lazy. There’s something much too earnest and naive about this album, something that just doesn’t fit with what works about Our Lady Peace’s usual style. It’s like the band is trying to become Maroon 5 for some reason, and they’re not very good at it. The whole boxer theme is also mostly corny and comes off as awkward more than anything else.
A couple of tracks on there are ok and this new direction should please fans of slower, more upbeat indie rock but this is really a lesser effort for Our Lady Peace which begs for a rethink in terms of which genre the band are settling in.
That’s only 2 Happy Cobains out of 5, I’m afraid.