NICKELBACK – No Fixed Address

Nickelback - No fixed AddressOut of all the Nickelback haters out there, I wonder how many of them has actually listened to them. I mean, really listened. See, Nickelback is one hard rock band you should hate. If you want cred, that is. Rock people can be very pretentious that way. Especially rockers who are into heavy and extreme music. Like death metal. Sometimes I get the feeling that it’s how hard the music is that matters, not if the music is any good. When the subject of Nickelback comes up, most people vomits verbally all over them without even blinking. It’s so accepted that everybody should hate that band that most people don’t even think about it – they just hate them by default. Of course, not everybody are like that, but I can admit here that I used to be like that once upon a time. When they had their huge hit “How You Remind Me” from their third album Silver Side Up (2001), I hated that song so much (I still can’t stand that song) that they became my number one object of hate. A friend of mine more or less forced that album on me (burned a copy) and I did try to listen to it, but said hit had ruined it for me. Since then, Nickelback were my enemy and I would dismiss them as soon as I could. All that was changed by producer Mutt Lange (Def Leppard, Foreigner, Bryan Adams, AC/DC) back in 2008. Lange had taken time out from producing hard rock when he married singer Shania Twain and only produced and wrote for her. So when a legend like Mutt Lange decides to make a come back to rock and Nickelback were his band of choice, how could I not check that out? A raving review in Classic Rock Magazine made me listen with an open mind and the album, Dark Horse, floored me completely. Was this the band that I had spent so much time hating? Stupid, stupid me! I went back to earlier albums like The Long Road (2003) and All The Right Reasons (2005) and gave them a go and lo and behold, I dug them. Like really dug them. I was now a fan and for the first time I looked forward to a Nickelback release when I got the news that Nickelback were about to release a follow up. Here And Now (2011) turned out to be another killer record and I even bought tickets to see them live. Who would have thought? Still can’t stand Silver Side Up, though. Now it’s time for Nickelback to release a new album and everything will be as usual. People will hate it and it will sell another shitload. Why Nickelback are so easy to hate really beats me, but of course, how can you – as a rocker – dig a band that are commercial enough to sell huge quantities of records and get played on mainstream radio and has hits that everyday people (and very often, teenage girls) likes. No, we can’t have that, now can we? That said, hate them all you want, but give them a good listen before you decide because you just might get surprised.

Me, I’m really glad that I decided on giving the band a chance because the way I see it, as a music fan, I’d rather like as many bands and artists as possible. Music is fun and I want to, at least try to give artists a chance. Realising just how great Nickelback’s later records have been also raised some really high expectations. Opener “Million Miles An Hour” really meets all expectations. It’s a brilliant hard rock groover, not miles away from killers like “Something In Your Mouth” or “Burn It To The Ground”, although it has its spacy moments. A (hit) single to be, I’m sure. “Edge Of A Revolution” is a heavier, slower thing, but has that classic Nickelback groove and that melody many song writers would sacrifice their mom for. It’s the second single from the album and it’s not a wild guess that it’ll be a big hit. First single “What Are You Waiting For” follows and I guess this is kind of songs (“Photograph”, “Gotta Be Somebody”, “When We Stand Together”) that gets on rockers’ tits. They always release a pop song as their first single and it sure feels like a calculated move and maybe that annoys people. Nickelback want hits and they write some of their songs strictly for that purpose. Big deal, I say. If the song is good, I don’t care why they wrote it. I have no doubt that they love those songs as well and that they’re not just big compromises. I love them too and this tune is no exception. It’s already a hit and go figure, the melodies are so catchy and addictive they should be in quarantine. So far, so great. “She Keeps Me Up” comes in and breaks things up a great deal. It’s a funk / disco / rock tune that sounds like the bastard child of Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” and Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music”. I really didn’t like it at first, but it grew on me and now I love it. It will stir up shit along the way, is my guess. “Get ’em Up” is a really cool tongue in cheek song about two friends that fails terribly when their trying to pull off a bank robbery. Heavy groove as well. But then something happens – all of sudden it feels like Nickelback are running on empty and keeps on repeating their same old formula over and over. Nothing wrong with that but it just feels like they are running out of ideas. “The Hammer’s Coming Down” has a melody Nickelback has used a million times by now and the whole song is dull and bland – a filler to put it in a nice way, “Miss You” is a totally boring and mainstream ballad that will probably be a single in the future and even though I’m all for breaking molds, when Nickelback turns 70’s pop / disco with the horrible “Got Me Runnin’ Round”, it’s just not working. If that wasn’t enough, the song is also guested by rapper Flo Rida which certainly doesn’t help.

Luckily enough they leave us with a smile as the closing track “Sister Sin” turns out to be great. The song is based on an acoustic ground with a really heavy groove and a killer melody. To sum this up, after a whole bunch of brilliant records, this new one is a bit of a disappointment. Sure, the whole album sounds just like a Nickelback album and I guess it won’t gain them any new fans, but I’m sure they won’t lose any either. The sound is big and polished, hard, yet soft and it has enough ballads to keep the mainstream radio softies happy and it also contain enough heavy rockers to keep their hard rock fan base. But this album has too many fillers, a schizophrenic mix of musical styles and on too many occasions the band sound off focus and this time I can actually feel the calculated way of thinking starts to take its toll. You can’t be loved by everybody, guys, you need to stick with what you do best and that is to rock. Lose the disco, pop and the rap. On the other hand, there are a whole bunch of killer tracks on here as well, enough of them to motivate separating money over it. Also, there is not many songs here that I would call crap either. So mostly, I find this a really good album, but I hope that Nickelback has got the experiments out of their bodies when it’s time to write a follow up.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

01. Million Miles An Hour
02. Edge Of A Revolution
03. What Are You Waiting For?
04. She Keeps Me Up
05. Make Me Believe Again
06. Satellite
07. Get ‘em Up
08. The Hammer’s Coming Down
09. Miss You
10. Got Me Runnin’ Round
11. Sister Sin

 

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