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Music Review: Raine Maida – The Hunters Lullaby

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Raine Maida gets all cozy and wistful on his solo album, The Hunters Lullaby. The lead singer of alt-rock group Our Lady Peace has gone down the road of many before him and turned to the solo project to reveal his inner workings, making for a yawning, diverse, and often pompous voyage.

Shots of Maida looking attentive on the back cover and sleeve of the record pretty much sum up where this album is headed. For the most part, The Hunters Lullaby is a lot more affectation than opportunity. Maida leaves the door open so much that things start to get blowy in his headspace, leaving the listener to sort through the particles of his “cool list” without much of a road map.

Follow me? I thought as much.

Without the alt-rock crunch of OLP surrounding him, Maida’s voice often sounds whiny and irritating. When he attempts to rap-sing, it gets worse. So the basic construct of the album, Raine Maida as a solo artist, features one of the heaviest initial flaws in existence: a middle-of-the-road voice as the centrepiece. Sure, his nasal interpretations suit the post-grunge stuff found on Naveed or Clumsy, but this is different.

That’s not to say Maida never gets things right. The album’s opener, “Careful What You Wish For,” features backing vocals by his wife Chantal Kreviazuk and is haunting in its own muddled, stolen-from-Radiohead way. The piano loop and chomp of the beat is a nice touch and offsets the tempo well.

But Maida’s lyrics and hotchpotch approach simply never elevate the material high enough.

Some are calling The Hunters Lullaby a protest album, but I was hard-pressed to find anything of the sort. Instead, the record simply seems cobbled together like a series of poems and stories from Maida’s youth, like the tacky “Yellow Brick Road,” and the doggedness of the singer to name-drop as much as possible (“One Second Chance”).

Hip-hop is given a shot to bump up the proceedings, as Maida’s half-spoken delivery is joined by a perplexed-sounding Jared Paul on “The Less I Know,” but even that track comes across as scrawny and artificial.

Maida’s infatuation with spoken word is all over The Hunters Lullaby, as his delivery takes the exaggerated road to success by sounding cooler than thou with each passing beat. The problem here is that Maida tries so hard to sound above the music that it comes across as a fraught manoeuvre to prove his street cred.

In the end, The Hunters Lullaby proves that Raine Maida is much better suited to standing in front of a big post-grunge rock band than he is sitting in a room filled with lattes, acoustic instruments, programming equipment, and spoken word artists. But he sure wants us to believe otherwise.

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About Jordan Richardson