Spiritual Machines, Our Lady Peace

BY CHRISTIAN SMITH
For the Daily
Published March 13, 2001

First, let me start by clearing up a common misconception. Our Lady Peace is not a church. It happens to be the name of a popular Canadian rock band. And they are not a New Age hardcore Christian rock band, just simple alternative rockers with a little spiritual influence.

Paul Wong
Walter (Charles Sutherland) stands over Hildy (Carl Hanna) in ""The Front Page.""<br><br>Courtesy of Glenn Bugala

Our Lady Peace was born nearly nine years ago when University of Toronto criminology student Michael Maida answered an ad in a local Toronto magazine placed by guitarist Mike Turner, who was looking to form a band after coming over from England. The name Our Lady Peace was taken from a poem written by Mike Van Doren.

A lot has changed since 1992. For one, Maida"s name is no longer Mike. Because he wanted to avoid the confusion of having two "Mikes" in the band, he decided to take the logical derivative, Raine. See how that works? Don"t worry, neither do I.

The concept of the band"s fourth album, Spiritual Machines is just as confusing. The record, which was released in Canada almost four months ago, takes its inspiration from Ray Kurzweil"s overwhelmingly paranoid book, "The Age Of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence."

Our Lady Peace wrote and partially recorded the new album during a year of nonstop touring in the States, Europe and Canada and that live-stage context, says Maida, inspired the band to "keep it really basic and not try to add too many textures ... to not overdo it."

The result is a less polished recording than in previous outings, but after the lackluster performance of their third album, Happiness Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch (don"t ask), on which Maida admits the band succumbed to the "temptation" of going a bit overboard in the studio, the band is content with the change in direction.

Spiritual Machines incorporates spoken word passages from the book by Kurzweil himself, and the songs on the album go a step further. Particularly "In Repair," which ponders the necessity and effectiveness of machines "repairing" people.

The book excerpts are more annoying than anything, but they don"t make the album any less effective. From the glaring "Right Behind You (Mafia)," more of a supportive anthem than an ode to the mob, to the rousing leadoff single "Life," to the haunting melodies of the ballad "Are You Sad," the album"s spontaneous feel is a much better fit for the band.

With their unconventional lyrics and edgy rock melodies, Our Lady Peace has developed a strong cult following.

After becoming a Canadian rock mainstay with the success of hits like "Clumsy" and "Thief," they are attempting to cross the border and do the same in America with Spiritual Machines.

If you don"t already know who Our Lady Peace is, look out, you will.

Grade: B