Raine Maida | The Hunters Lullaby (Kingnoise)

rainemaida.jpgAs a document of music that fits Maida’s aesthetic without falling back on Our Lady Peace’s post-grunge guitar anthems, it proves an interesting listen, but as a whole, the album comes up lacking.

 

 

 

When the singer of a popular rock band tosses off his first solo record, it usually follows one of two tracks: the bare bones acoustic/folk record that strips away the influence of said singer’s bandmates, or the experimental record that explores every self-indulgent tendency that couldn’t be explored within the band context. Given the Iron & Wine beard that Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida is sporting on the cover of his solo debut The Hunters Lullaby, you may suspect that this album is the former, but it is very much the latter. As a document of music that fits Maida’s aesthetic without falling back on Our Lady Peace’s post-grunge guitar anthems, it proves an interesting listen, but as a whole, the album comes up lacking.

The path is laid immediately with album opener "Careful What You Wish For." Built around a swirling, circus-ish piano line from Chantal Kreviazuk (Maida’s wife, and a singer/songwriter in her own right), the operatic backing vocals and haunting strings prove The Hunters Lullaby is anything but a stripped down solo affair. "Sex Love and Honey" ups the ante by aping Kid A with sped up, mechanical drums and a circling acoustic guitar figure, taking things in a direction even OLP’s more experimental side (like their 2000 concept album Spiritual Machines) only hinted at.

Unfortunately, as quickly as the album gets going, it stumbles with "Yellow Brick Road," a song as clichéd as its title implies that plays like a castoff from a Stroke 9 record (and given how spotty their last couple records have been, that’s not exactly a compliment). "Yellow Brick Road"’s faux frat-rap stylings give way to a real attempt at hip-hop on the regrettably lame "The Less I Know." Maida’s singing throughout the album is remarkably restrained, often closer to the speak-sing style of mid-era R.E.M. than Maida’s yelping vocal style on Our Lady Peace classics like "Superman’s Dead."

The album struggles to find an identity during its back half, careening between Maida’s impulse to strip down (the falsetto ballad "China Doll") or branch out (the spoken word Beat poetry of closer "One Second Chance"). Whatever technique he uses, Maida still comes off as brooding, making the experience of listening to The Hunters Lullaby almost suffocatingly dark. The driving acoustic guitar and rollicking drums of the penultimate track "Rat Race" return to the territory of "Sex Love and Honey" and give the album’s back half a much-needed kick in the tuchus, but by then it feels like too little too late. The Hunters Lullaby is a diverse listen, to be sure, but its schizophrenic personality and lack of big, catchy guitar rock makes it hard to imagine it’ll have much appeal to the Our Lady Peace faithful. C+ | Jason Green

 

On the web:

Website: www.rainemaida.net

MySpace: www.myspace.com/rainemaida

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