90s score: 9/10
2020 score: 9/10
My introduction to Canadian rock legends Our Lady Peace was a strange one. In the 90s, I was one of those kids that downloaded fan-made Dragonball Z videos (feel free to call me a geek); what’s the relevance to this article, you might ask? Well, one of those videos had a track called “Superman’s Dead” playing in the background. I was blown away and immediately had to know who it was. I’m not even sure Google existed back then, but if it did, I didn’t know about it, so it took some effort to find out who wrote the song. Eventually, it led me to one of my all-time favourite 90s records, Clumsy.
I had stopped listening to Our Lady Peace for several years, but my love for them was reinvigorated when I saw them play at MTelus with Matthew Good back in 2018, so I thought it would be fun to dive back into their record and see if I still felt the same way about it. Spoiler alert: I (mostly) do!
If you’re an OLP fan, then you already know that Clumsy opens with “Superman’s Dead,” the track that arguably launched the band into the stratosphere and landed them tours with bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters. It’s easy to hear why this song had such a huge impact–it’s just so fuckin good and catchy! Despite being played to death on alternative radio stations (even still today), I just dare you not to sing along with Raine Maida’s chorus; “I’m thinking why-ee-I-ee-I-ee, yeah, Superman’s dead.” Our Lady Peace really know how to write great songs. I forgot how many incredible tracks are packed on this thing. “Automatic Flowers” has all the staples of a fantastic 90s rock jam; catchy chorus (again), loud drums and guitar, and an explosive outro. Tracks like “Big Dumb Rocket” and “Let You Down” give you more of the same.
Of course, we can’t talk about Clumsy without touching on two of the biggest singles from it, the title track “Clumsy” and, easily of the most heart-breaking songs you’ll ever hear, “4am.” It might have been “Superman’s Dead” that launched their career, but in my opinion, it’s these two tracks that prove that Our Lady Peace are masters of their craft; their craft being the ability to write incredible songs that’ll get stuck in your head for decades.
But hey, even masterpieces can have a few short comings, right? Songs like “Shaking” and “Hello Oskar” just don’t hold a candle to the rest of Clumsy. The verses and choruses aren’t new. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that the rest of the album is so damn good that these ones kinda get drowned out.
Clumsy is, and always will be, one of the most classic and memorable 90s rock records. It debuted at number 1 in 1997 during its first week and would eventually receive Diamond certification in Canada and Platinum in the USA. All notable rewards, but ultimately, this record is so much more than just the rewards received. It’s an example of musicians writing music with passion and meaning, and, ultimately, delivering an album so good that it sounds just as fresh today as the day it was released.
Written by Dominic Abate
*edited by Danielle Kenedy