i used to say that there are at least two good things about canada: canadian ham and our lady peace. over the years maida and co. have steadily released album after album, all of which may have been revolving around interpersonal relationships but still managed to stay away from regurgitation. it's no secret that maida's lyrical ability is at its apogee when it deals with people. unfortunately the band itself has been somewhat of a secret itself. before Gravity OLP didn't garner much success stateside but have always performed pretty well in canada's rock charts and fairly well in europe. they became a kind of secret alternative jewel, a rare and welcoming catch phrase.
but with Gravity, their underground status has been suspended (maybe for good) having gone gold stateside. fans, to the contrary of pop-rock sycophants, didn't disavow OLP because they became successful but rather because that success was built on foundations that homogenized OLP. indeed, on their new cd it's clear that there is a familiar radio comfort to their songs, as though they are without any sort of real impetus. two obvious reasons are the new production and the new line up. mike turner left the band in late 2001 and with him went a piece of the old OLP. turner brought an underlying equilibrium to their music because instead of berating you he played as though the band was a mini-orchestra with each concept making the whole. it really felt as though that without taggart OR maida OR coutts OR turner then OLP wouldn't be OLP.
a second reason is the production. arnold lanni had produced all the prior OLP works up until Gravity and made sure to make each one individual. but with bob rock taking the helm--who worked with such gushing pop sentimentalists like bon jovi and motley crue (!)--the winds changed completely. turner probably wouldn't have stayed with such a producer in the mix because it would alarmingly alter his style. but in walks steve mazur and rock believes that he has a finishing lineup. the result is an album that obtains commercial success, but not under the conditions people who have known the band would have liked. taggart's near jazz-like percussion found on previous works (especially on Happiness...), coutts' ambitious bass playing, maida's vocal creativity, and turner's sharp guitar playing have either been eliminated completely or reduced to their most palatable form. Gravity may be good for pop-rock standards, but this is a huge blow to those who felt that OLP was above it.
addendum: OLP's other four albums weren't distinct only on aural merits but also aesthetic ones. Gravity is the first album to feature them on the cover instead of the "Birdman" who is on the rest and though this may sound trifling it also marks a change in the band. there was an extremely noticeable difference with the new cd that, although not necessarily appalling, became discomforting.
Artist: Our Lady Peace