Our Lady Peace
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Spiritual Machines II
Release date: Coming Soon
Label: Shelter Records
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Our Lady Peace – Spiritual Machines 2
“Spiritual Machines had 147 predictions. 86% were correct.”
When Our Lady Peace released Spiritual Machines in 2000, they had become one of Canada’s most successful alt-rock bands. They were about to get even bigger with their next album, the Bob Rock-produced, megahit-spawning Gravity that would make OLP a global force.
Caught in-between those two eras, Spiritual Machines was the surreal left-turn. A concept record named after a book by Futurist Ray Kurzweil (whose voice appears throughout the album), Spiritual Machines found OLP subverting the working rock formula that worked so well for them, writing anthemic guitar hooks next to literal predictive modelings addressing a future dependent on AI and the legal rights of computers. Not your typical mainstream rock record. It sold modestly, but it quickly became a critic and fan favorite, and is now considered one of Canada’s most influential alt-rock records.
Twenty years later, Spiritual Machines’s predictions have mostly come true.
86%, to be exact. Now, new predictions must be made for the future -- and with groundbreaking advances in technology, there’s reason to celebrate. OLP responds to this hope with Spiritual Machines 2, the band’s long-awaited sequel LP. Produced by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek (with additional production by Jason Lader on three tracks) and featuring the return of Kurzweil with new predictions, Spiritual Machines 2's technicolor grooves mark an uplifting new chapter for OLP, as well as a chance to readjust the expectations for our shared future.
The genesis of Spiritual Machines 2 started with the lead single and album opener “Stop Making Stupid People Famous,” inspired by the art of Plastic Jesus and featuring Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokno. The song – born from Duncan Coutts's Talking Heads-like bassline – had been around for a couple of years before frontman Raine Maida reached out on a whim to Sitek with a demo. A longtime TV on the Radio fan, Maida was convinced that Sitek would connect with OLP’s change in direction, and he was right. Under Sitek’s guidance, “Stop Making Stupid People Famous” channels a more upbeat, dance-like sound more akin to TV on the Radio and The Killers while pulling from rock’s past in David Bowie and Zooropa-era U2. It’s an unusual way for OLP to record its instruments as well, blending rhythms, guitars, bass without overlapping in what Maida calls “instrument democracy in full force.” Nadya’s appearance marks an antithesis of the song’s titular famous people and their desire for noise over humility and OLP’s call to action: It’s time to work on real dreams. Like the rest of Spiritual Machines 2, “Stop Making Stupid People Famous” was recorded remote due to COVID-19, and it presented OLP with the challenge of replacing the spontaneity of everyone playing in the same room.
Other highlights include the “future rock” (Sitek’s words) of the ironic feel-good of “Future Disease,” and “Holes,” a sister song to early OLP classic “Superman’s Dead” that uses a descending single-note guitar synth riff to make us feel like we’re sinking into life’s darkness. “19 Days” asks: How do we heal, and has technology hurt or helped us in that repair? Album closer “Temporary Healing” gives an answer: No matter how hard it is, we must honor that journey to heal.
Elsewhere, the energetic “Run” reminds us of the very human contradiction of escape, to flight or fight, while “Simulation” reminds us of the very technological contradiction of progress. “Good Die Young” asks another question: Can we be good with just being good? And one could sum up the album with Maida’s lingering reflection on the past 20 years of progress in “Wish You Well”: Do the zeros and ones add up? Are we now better off?
Throughout Spiritual Machines 2, Ray Kurzweil returns with new audio recordings, this time detailing new predictions about a near-future with UBI (Universal Basic Income), AI that will pass the Turing Test by 2029, and sustainable solutions to ending global hunger and poverty. Kurzweil’s other predictions inform the album’s other lyrics, as “The Message” wonders, like Kurzweil, if we really are living in a simulation.
OLP’s world around Spiritual Machines 2 also has evolved. Spiritual Machines illustrator Oli Goldsmith also is back to collaborate with OLP to create NFTs based on Spiritual Machines 2 and bringing to life the rest of the band's storied career. A longtime participant in forward-thinking technology – he many years ago founded a DSP streaming service that brought music more directly to the fans – Maida is now a part of S!NG, a Seattle-based tech company that uses blockchain technology to help creatives make music and protect their work.
Spiritual Machines 2 is both a return to form and the marker of a new era for a band that’s been on the main stage for over 25 years. Our Lady Peace is Raine Maida (lead vocals), Duncan Coutts (bass), Jason Pierce (percussion), and Steve Mazur (lead guitar). They have sold over five million albums, won four JUNO Awards and 10 Much Music Videos Awards (one of the MMVA’s most awarded artists), and have toured the world with The Rolling Stones, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Van Halen, Goo Goo Dolls, Alanis Morissette, and more, in addition to launching their music festival, Summersault, and playing at legendary festivals such as Woodstock ’99 and Live 8. The band's 1995 debut LP Naveed rode the wave of post-grunge in North America and has been followed by nine other albums, many of which going double platinum. The band’s No. 1 radio hits in Canada include “Clumsy,” “In Repair,” “Somewhere Out There,” and “Angels Losing Sleep.”