Review Summary: Burn Burn isn't Naveed II, but it is their most consistent work since Spiritual Machines.
Let's get a couple things straight right away. Burn Burn
does not sound like Naveed
. Nor was Burn Burn
ever intended to sound like Naveed
. When Raine Maida announced Our Lady Peace's seventh album last fall, he called it the "closest record to Naveed
." Of course, after the vague comparison to the band's debut, people stopped paying attention and missed the explanation. When Raine compared the album to Naveed
, he was referring to the way the album was made rather than the way the music sounded. Not unlike Naveed
or even Maida's solo record, The Hunters Lullaby, Burn Burn was written, recorded, and produced without any outside intrusions.
In many respects, the tense conditions of the Healthy in Paranoid Times
sessions took away from the final product. It isn't any secret that the band almost broke up during the two years it took to make the album, and as good of a record as it was, it was a clear step down from the material the band used to pen. Some of the songs, most notably "Don't Stop" and "Boy" sounded horribly average and forced. In contrast, the making of Burn Burn
went a whole lot more smoothly, and it shows. For Burn Burn
is not only a tighter, more natural sounding release than its predecessor, but it's a stronger record in virtually every regard.
While Our Lady Peace has adjusted their sound a little with each album, Burn Burn
represents some of the mellowest material the band has written in their career. Songs like "Monkey Brains" and "Dreamland", and the bridge of "Never Get Over You" evoke vintage Our Lady Peace, but for the most part Burn Burn
represents a change in direction. The aforementioned "Monkey Brains" is the only track in which guitarist Steve Mazur relies heavily on gritty distortion, and even then the song features a beautiful acoustic break not unlike Clumsy
's "Superman's Dead". That isn't to say that Burn Burn
is lacking in rock songs; the upbeat "White Flags" is another infectious guitar lead track that lacks the aggression of "Monkey Brains" but makes up for it through sheer enthusiasm, while "All You Did Was Save My Life" is a soaring piece that combines Our Lady Peace's anthemic sound with the introspective lyrical work similar to The Hunters Lullaby
That said, Burn Burn
particularly focuses on slower tracks, a role in which the band especially shines. Our Lady Peace explores a variety of different themes and styles; "Refuge" is a delicate, sparse piece carried by Maida's sympathetic lyrical delivery and one of drummer Jeremy Taggart's finest performances, whereas "Paper Moon" is a more open sounding track which sees Maida incorporating a light falsetto that hasn't been heard in Our Lady Peace's music since Spiritual Machines
. "Signs of Life" strips down Our Lady Peace's sound even more than "Refuge", embracing acoustic dynamics previously foreign to their sound. From the piano melodies that snake through "Never Get Over You" – directly at first and later subtly – to the lengthy guitar solo in "Paper Moon", Our Lady Peace integrates an assortment of different ideas that make Burn Burn
as diverse as any of their works thus far.
In Burn Burn
, Our Lady Peace haven't released the album so many people wanted to hear – that being Naveed II
–, but they have released their most consistent work since Spiritual Machines
. The record doesn't particularly sound like anything Our Lady Peace has done in the past, but maybe that is what's so exciting about the quartet's seventh release. Each of Burn Burn
's ten tracks has something to offer, be it the subdued excellence of "Signs of Life", the lively aggression of "Monkey Brains" or even the simple optimism of "Dreamland". Really, that's all I really wanted from Burn Burn
. And unsurprisingly, Our Lady Peace delivers.