December 6, 2007

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Raine Maida, The Hunters Lullaby
Kingnoise/Nettwerk Records, Nov. 13
The single nicest surprise so far this music-product off-season is, perplexingly enough, Canadian. Maida, the singer for Our Lady Peace, watched his band run the table at Canadian awards shows and rack up sales everywhere but here in the U.S., where their biggest exposure came via the song “Whatever,” which, as luck would have it, crazy-murdering steroid-gulper Chris Benoit adopted as his WWE intro song. The band progressively toned down their hard rock, story of everybody’s life, but that didn’t play in Peoria either, so here he’s gone solo to see what American lovin’s in store by edging a little toward the hip-hop side.

That’s not to say he’s decked out in grills nowadays, but the menacing piano loop in album roll-out track “Careful What You Wish For” does forebode gat-fire and hard pipe-hittin’ hood tales. It never deteriorates into in-your-face honky rap, though; Maida mixes a few unobtrusive, natural rhyme-flows up with his Sinex-blasted nu-metal croak, sounding nervous but musically aware. “Yellow Brick Road” is a drop-dead post-Beck hit that seems to have simply slipped out of him; great chorus and enough hip-hop to inspire bursts of table-drumming in the sports bars down here in Bushworld, one would think. Just in case, though, “China Doll” tables a little French-café alt-folk for the home crowd.

In sum, the album’s a grower if given half a chance, familiar but a little dark and cold and unsure of itself, although it really needn’t have been. A — E. W. S.