Sound: One of Canada's most popular homegrown bands should be pretty satisfied when looking back at the last 10 years. According to the Sony label, Our Lady Peace has had more #1 rock singles than any other Canadian rock band, and that rich history is now available in a collection called A Decade. With 16 past hits and 2 new songs on the CD, A Decade gives is probably best suited for newer fans who have yet to hear the full spectrum of work OLP has recorded since it's mid-'90s album debut.
If you had forgotten about OLP (vocalist Raine Maida, drummer Jeremy Taggart, bassist Duncan Coutts, and guitarist Steve Mazur) over the years, it's most likely because the band has had a bit less attention paid to its past few albums. It's not until you listen to A Decade that you get a much better appreciation for the quality work the band has released since the release of its debut record Naveed. The most well-known OLP singles are all present on the new record, with songs like Clumsy, Superman's Dead, and Somewhere Out There probably being the most familiar of the bunch. While not every song has a chorus as infectiously catchy as why-ee, -y-ee-y-ee is Superman dead, you're still bound to find a large number of appealing songs among the 18 tracks.
The songs from the albums Spiritual Machines and Healthy In Paranoid Times represent a period in the band's career when the record sales were a bit lackluster. When listening to tracks like In Repair and Angels/Losing/Sleep, it's actually a bit surprising to find out these were the singles off the album with disappointing sales. They have hooks in the choruses that are immediately memorable, particularly when Maida uses his trademark falsetto.
The 2 new tracks Kiss On The Mouth and Better Than Here could signal a comeback for the band in terms of record sales/popularity. Kiss On The Mouth is actually one of the best songs on the CD. It begins with a subtle guitar riff that has a beautiful sustain at the end. When you get to the chorus, the song just breaks out into high-energy, rapid-fire vocals that mark the highlight of the song. Better Than Here is a bit more restrained, but Maida's vocals are once again a high point in the song. // 9
Lyrics: The subjects covered in OLP's lyrics are widespread, and that becomes very clear when you listen to A Decade. The band has delved into everything from concept albums to straightforward rock releases, so there's a little something for everyone. One of the most moving tracks on the compilation is Thief, which is apparently about a young girl that the band met who was dying of cancer. Maida sings, Someone help us understand who ordered; This disgusting arrangement with time and the end; I don't want to hear who walked on water; Because the hallways are empty and the clock ticks. You can definitely hear the anger and frustration behind the vocals, and it's clear that Maida is writing from the heart.
In Repair involves a relationship that is apparently in need of some emotional fixing. In the midst of lines you might expect in a relationship song, the band throws in some unusual imagery. Maida sings, Take this time to figure it out; Know the wire, the fuse, the things that you doubt; The wheels, the air, the metal, the mouth. When you take the excerpt and put it next to the chorus that states, Like a machine they'll fix you from the start, the song does form an intriguing metaphor. // 9
Overall Impression: There are a few years where I admittedly lost track of Our Lady Peace, so A Decade has been a great way to get reacquainted with the band. While OLP's most dedicated fans will probably already have most of the songs in their CD library, the 2 new songs are worth a listen if they want to splurge on A Decade.
While the band does not stray too far out of the traditional rock genre, they do have a lot of memorable songs thanks to the dynamic vocals of Maida and (somewhat) new guitarist Mazur. The band did have a stint where they were focusing on a more concept-driven sound, but it does sound like the band is successfully returning to it's rock roots. // 9