Our Lady Peace Healthy in Paranoid Times

With their earnest global do-good work, unabashed guitar hedonism and predilection for bombastic, stadium-sized alterna-rock, Our Lady Peace are the CanCon U2; not exactly "even better than the real thing,” but a sturdy, locally-produced facsimile of the designer-label original. For their sixth studio LP — and second under knob-twiddler extraordinaire Bob Rock — they’ve opted to toss a couple of curveballs in with their usual straight-ahead riff-rockers ("Angels Losing Sleep”) and syrupy, schmaltz-laden power ballads ("Picture”). Paranoid Times’ unexpected day trips into glam (the finger-popping strutter "World on a String,” whose bouncy riff is plucked straight out of the Sesame Street theme) and acerbic scowl-rock ("Wipe That Smile Off Your Face”) provide its best moments, adding depth and character to a band whose songwriting had long since bogged down in post-grunge mush. Only a few missteps — crossover-courting first single "Where Are You,” which sounds like an Avril reject with the chorus cut out, and an anaemic three-song dead zone right smack in the middle — mars this surprisingly adventurous, formula-defying outing. More like this, please. (Sony BMG)