Nickelback – [Album]

Friday, 25 November 2011

If you pride yourself in being a Nickelback fan, go ahead and pick up their latest album, Here and Now. You'll find that it's pretty much on par with anything they've offered in the past, and you should enjoy it. Feel free to stop reading now if this is the case.
For those of you who don't list yourselves as fans (like the audience at a recent Detroit Lions game), you'll likely find Nickelback's inability to change or grow as a band to be their greatest fault. Crunching guitar riffs mixed with generic party/love/loss lyrics result in tracks which could be interchangeable with any from the band's earlier albums. I've always felt that Nickelback offers hard rock music for people that don't really like hard rock, but like to say that they do.
What I find interesting is that every Nickelback album I've come across, including Here and Now, seems to have the same narrative storyline to it. Chapter 1: Let's go out and party! Drink all night! We're invincible! Chapter 2: Look at that crazy hot woman! Everybody wants to get her! She does nasty things to me! Chapter 3: I've lost the love of my life and the hurting will never end. I can only assume this leads back to the drinking in Chapter 1, which keeps the cycle going and explains why every album is pretty much the same.
"Bottoms Up" is exactly what you'd expect from a "Chapter 1" type song, and will certainly be declared a frat party anthem in the coming months. It describes the complex tale of a group of guys drinking every drop of alcohol in a bar. Lyrics like "This is what it's all about/ No one can slow us down/ We ain't gonna stop until the clock runs out" set the tone here. “Bottoms Up” offers little more than any other pop song on the radio today, with lyrics which could easily be swapped with the latest effort by Katie Perry or Ke$ha. The only thing missing is a line about guys who look like Mick Jagger. If you need to get pumped before a party and don't want anyone to catch you listening to Britney Spears, tracks like this will do.
…And of course, if you're out partying, you're gonna be coming across some wild party girls, which brings us to the next Nickelback song classification. This theme is certainly nothing new for rock music but, back in the day, lyrics used to be more subtle – thinly veiled sexual analogies about "giving the dog a bone" or "taking care of business" (I assume that's what that song was about) have been de rigeur for decades, Nickelback prefers to be right out in the open with what's going on. "Midnight Queen" has singer Chad Kroeger declaring, "I was lyin' when I told her I was only gonna lick her tonight!" and "She's gonna be my sex machine and I can never get her under control!" The following track, "Gotta Get Me Some," follows a similar (if not exactly the same) story of a hot chick going wild in a bar complete with “irresistable” lines like "God almighty, look at that body/ It looks like a sticker on a new Ferrari!"

Gosh, these guys sure like to party and chase hot chicks!
But like every bad boy, they also have a soft side buried deep beneath their rough exterior, which brings us to the third Nickelback song classification: the "I love you and I can't live without you" genre. It's unclear whether these songs refer to any relationships which may have been borne of the dirty girls in the earlier songs, or if the dirty girls ruined the relationships with the good girls, but they offer a drastically different view on love and sex. "Every day we gotta be apart/  I'm like a baby with a broken heart," Kroeger sings on "Holding on to Heaven." “Trying Not to Love You" ends with the predictable "[it] only makes me want you more" line. It's hard to lose the love of your life, and one-third of Nickelback's songs do an excellent job of capturing that in all of its sappy glory.
Here and Now feels like an album you would get from an American Idol finalist that was labelled as "The Rocker.” Mediocre and predictable, it offers the same kind of generic rock you'd expect from a band who wants to be the Foo Fighters but lacks the street cred provided by Dave Grohl's Nirvana years. With all that in mind, it should go without saying that Here and Now offers "good enough" hard rock, but probably won't be taken seriously by many fans of the genre.



Here and Now
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .


Nickelback – [Album]

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

When Nickelback released All The Right Reasons in 2005, they surprised detractors by spontaneously evolving beyond the regretful, hard-feelings driven and sexually degrading rock the made their name on and got reflective; looking inward as well as out and actually exhibiting a heart in tracks like “If Everyone Cared,” “Savin’ Me,” “Photograph” and “Rockstar” which made it seem like All The Right Reasons might be the most genuine document that the crotch-grabbing brothers Kroeger had ever allowed themselves to feel. In that vein, Dark Horse is the album that tries to distil and cover the extremes of the sounds opened up on All The Right Reasons – essentially like a compilation of the ultra-heartfelt and the band reaching way down to feel their hard-on.

While Nickelback isn’t the first to attempt such an amalgam (the best prior comparison that comes to mind is Tommy Lee’s Methods Of Mayhem project years ago), it’d be hard to convince Nickelback of that as it’s apparent that the band was still trying to work the kinks out as the tape rolled here. Dark Horse opens with Nickelback’s crowning achievement in sexual debasement (“Something In Your Mouth”) and will send a chill through the bones of anyone familiar with the band’s history; they’re back. While Nickelback has always had dirty moments on each record through their careers that make anyone with even a passing respect for women cringe, instantly evident in the lyric sheet for “Something In Your Mouth” are those little pushes that go far beyond innuendo between the monster guitar parts and crotch-caressing crescendos is that the band has just turned abusive now; the song is as heavy-handed and artless as lines like “You’re so much cooler when you never pull it out/ Because you look so much cuter/ with something in your mouth” suggest.

The trend continues as guitarist Ryan Peake and Kroeger continue to heavily pet their guitars and get their rocks off through “Burn It To The Ground,” “Next Go Round” and “Just To Get High” but the ultimate testament to that side of the coin is “S.E.X.” (because “X is just to mark the spot/ because that’s the one you really want”). Such mock sleazy com-ons start to come off as pretty comical pretty quickly because they’re just so two-dimensional; clearly the image of what a woman is Kroeger’s mind is a completely objectified one which will have reasonable listeners wondering how long it’s been since he got any.

Because those aforementioned songs are so intrusive, the other side of the thematic coin here seems even more tossed off than it has previously. Acoustic contrivances like “Gotta Be Somebody” (hoping for a good woman after taking blatant cheap shots for the duration of the previous two tracks? Good luck Chad), “I’d Come For You” (not that ‘come’) and “Never Gonna Be Alone” (where the singer pays lip service to missed opportunities) seem even more insulting to the intelligence of every listener following along with more than two brain cells to rub together. These tracks aren’t just weak in design, they’re weak from a thematic standpoint. Other than on For All The Right Reasons, Kroeger has always gone to great pains to write himself as a tough bad-ass who will take what he wants before retracting such sentiments a couple of tracks later and confess that he just wants to be loved, but that gag only works for so long. Because the abrasive tracks are amplified to the point that they draw the singer as a caricature of animal lust, the counterbalance tracks on this record barely register because they simply aren’t as potent; if you’re going to go to to one edge of possibility, you have to go to the other to in order to still remain on even keel and Kroeger just doesn’t do that here.

The only ’softer side’ song that could pass in a pinch for decent is “This Afternoon” and even that is pretty fluffy. As an acoustic guitar and back porch drumming rattles off a Waylon Jennings ’Good Ol’ Boys’ designer impostor, Kroeger sings about missing barbecues at home with friends, good suds and good times that falls nicely right between the over-the-top psychosexual posturing and the softer, “somebody hold me” side. Theoretically, the song could precede the events of either aforementioned extreme and, with better sequencing could have provided the bridge between the poles but, because it appears at the end of the album, the song just feels tacked on to beef up the record’s runtime. In trying to make a balanced experience from the furthest reaches of Kroeger’s muse but not having the experience to articulate any of it very well, Dark Horse ends up falling well short of its mar because it feels devoid of emotion. Make no mistake, Nickelback talks a very good game here, but that’s all it is: talk.


Nickelback official website
Nickelback myspace

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