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Our Lady Peace, Spiritual Machines 

by Mike Corrigan

Ostensibly a concept album based on writer Ray Kurzweil's treatise on artificial intelligence (complete with short monologues by the author interspersed between cuts), Spiritual Machines sounds distinctly un-spiritual and more than just a little material.

The fourth album from Toronto quartet Our Lady Peace (which plays The Met on July 6) contains typically pedestrian corporate rock tailor-made to serve as perfect FM radio fodder -- the ultimate in safety rock with the band sounding virtually undistinguishable from the dozen or so other faceless guitar units currently cluttering up the airwaves.

Believe it or not, big, semi-dirty guitars, neatly inserted vocal harmonies and enthusiastic playing don't always add up to anything of interest. It's alarming how quickly the songs on Spiritual Machines slip through your cortex without so much as a tickle. Furthermore, any attempts at genuine communion with the listener are undermined by singer Raine Maida's affected and strangely soulless vocal delivery. On the obligatory ballad, "Are You Sad," for instance, his attempt at honest communication comes off sounding wholly contrived (his songwriting skills ain't exactly up to the task, either).

All this elicits a question: If you're not doing anything particularly innovative (or even well), why bother doing it at all? Answer: for a paycheck, of course, and a shot at the perks of fame. But that's no reason for you or I to sign up -- that is, unless you take your rock sterile, toothless and forgettable.
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