Sound — 9
Our Lady Peace haven't really made any noticeable changes from their third album musically, Mike Turner's multiple, acerbic guitars rule supreme, and the rhythm team of Taggart and Coutts remain extremely solid with flourishes throughout, showing obvious development in the skilled drummer and bassist. Peppered throughout are excerpts from author Ray Kurzwiel detailing human evolution into what he expects will be a completely machinated society soon enough. It seems a dreary subject to be considering, but Our Lady Peace take it all in stride. Tracks like 'In Repair' are heartwarming, riddled with layers of skillfully arranged acoustic guitar for every word uttered from Raine Maida's mouth. The main difference with Spiritual Machines is that Our Lady Peace feels comfortable, and obviously so. On Happiness, they were exploring new territory musically, now they have embraced the wall-of-sound crunch and the unconventional sounds of the studio, making for a seamless 10 tracks that never really falter. It just seems like musically Our Lady Peace has put more effort into their compositions rather than showcasing Raine Maida's vocals.
Lyrics — 8
Seemingly enlightened by the writing style he developed on Happiness... Raine Maida continues the trend, writing lyrics that are much clearer than those on Clumsy or Naveed, but still smart enough to provoke coherent thought from the listener. However it seems like perhaps he was trying too hard to tread mainstream territory, whereas he had been cast into the alt-rock stock since Our Lady Peace's debut. Tracks like 'Life' and 'Are You Sad?', while triumphs musically, show the opposite lyrically, with Maida lacking any depth whatsoever, "Life its waiting for you its all messed up but we'll survive" Excerpt from 'Life'. Yes, Raine, we know, thanks for confirming this for us. He almost seems to sacrifice his artistic talents on certain songs, on a concept album no less, to gain public acclaim. Maida's vocals have also improved, and he sounds much more in control of his screeching voice than before, even using a slightly lower register than is much easier on the ears. It works great here, easily conquering spine-tingling rockers like 'Middle Of Yesterday' and soaring over the riffs of 'The Wonderful Future'. Yet Naveed remains his strongest vocal achievement, despite his improvement.
Overall Impression — 9
Our Lady Peace has refined their sound, creating a tight, well-package and pleasing fourth album that deserves more than a second listen. The whole CD has a warm feeling, yet Our Lady Peace seems to easily throw back to their 1997 hit Clumsy to produce a chilling hard rock sound when they want to. Spiritual Machines, at its best, displays a satirical, listenable rock record that was sadly overlooked. At its worst it melds into a commercially-viable pop CD, thankfully this happens rarely. 'In Repair', 'Middle Of Yesterday', 'Made To Heal', 'If You Believe' and 'The Wonderful Future' all display the best of Spiritual Machines.