Happiness is Power-Pop

Our Lady Peace - Happiness...
Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch

(Columbia Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

With rock music in such a mixed-up state these days, it would seem a difficult place for a band like Our Lady Peace to fit into. They're not post-grunge. They're not techno, ambient, drum-n-bass or any other electronic passing fancy. They're not part of the current rap-metal rat-pack who admittedly 'do it all for the nookie'. Heck, they're hardly even alternative. But surprisingly enough they manage to a cause a slight ripple through the brackish transition in rock today.
Their rise to fame, while not quite as meteoric as modern rock poster boys Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit, has been gaining momentum since their 1995 debut album Naveed. While that album fared well it was their second effort, Clumsy, with it's Midas-touched hits "Superman's Dead" and "Clumsy", that quickly turned that album to gold. Their success found them backing up many of today's heavyweights in concert such as Garbage, Alanis Morissette, Bush, Everclear not to mention securing the coveted spot in front of The Rolling Stones.
This Toronto quartet, featuring Raine Maida on vocals, guitarist Mike Turner, bassist Duncan Coutts and Jeremy Taggart on drums, prove on their third release, Happiness... Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch, that while they may not be the most innovative band around, they at least have a handle on good-old-fashioned power- pop sprinkled with a bit glam-rock's magic dust.
Maida's vocals warble in and out of songs which touch on individuality ("One Man Army" their punchy first single from the album), isolation ("Is Anybody Home", complete with a Garbage-styled treated guitar) as well as obsessions with mortality and the challenges of human relationships.
The rhythm section, although never obtrusive, provides a strong backbone for Turner's guitar sonics, which flash from springy to menacing to squirrely to 'don't go into the light' blinding, at the bat of an eye.
While the song "Blister" may seem custom-tailored to fit within the safety of pop radio, it's numbers like "Annie", with it's swishy guitars and Beatle-esque choruses, "Happiness and The Fish", which is reminiscent of the best of early nineties alternative rock, and the thick, coagulating guitars and whirling dervish vocals on "Consequence Of Laughing" that gives this album it's bite.
It may not be a fish that you can catch, but Our Lady Peace offers a little slice of happiness without ever having to get a line wet.

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