I have nothing against Nickelback. I find them perfectly inoffensive in much the same way Bush was perfectly inoffensive in the Nineties and…I don’t know, 38 Special and Foreigner were in the Eighties. Do I appreciate their music the same way I appreciate…oh, I don’t know…OK, let me change tack. You’re never gonna see me running to a record store or dropping ten bucks online to buy a Nickelback record, but if I’m in a bar and a song of theirs comes on, I won’t groan and complain to the bartender. Hell, if it’s “How You Remind Me” or “Far Away” (to name two songs by the band I actually like) I might just sing along.
I’m not quite sure I understand all the hate for Chad Kroeger and the boys. Sure, they sell more records than bands who are significantly more artistically substantial, but hasn’t that always been the way? The casual music fan doesn’t know much more than he/she hears on the radio or in commercials, and Nickelback’s music is perfect for Middle America. They’re vanilla; beige. Inoffensive. I keep coming back to that word. You want bad and offensive? Go pick up a Kid Rock CD.
Anyhow, Here & Now is the name of their latest album, and, it sounds like…exactly what you’d expect a Nickelback album to sound like. There’s lots of crunchy guitars, Kroeger growls like he’s just inhaled a shot glass, and the lyrics are garden-variety misogny that’ll have tons of over-tanned white women with fake titties pulling their tops off at outdoor arenas all next summer. If that’s your thing, you’ll get a kick out of this record, probably. If not, and you decide to pick this up anyway? You asked for it, dude.
One thing I’ll give Nickelback a little bit of credit for is that they try to diversify their sound on occasion. Although most of Here & Now consists of mildly misogynist odes to drinking & fucking (as songs with titles like “Bottoms Up”, “Gotta Get Me Some” and “Midnight Queen” might indicate), there’s also a save-the-world song that experiments with a more ethereal vibe that treads dangerously close to dance-pop (“Stand Together”.) There’s also a couple of lighter-waving ballads like “Lullaby”, which is sure to scale the charts whenever it winds up being released as a single-which should be any day now. The songs are melodically sound, have a decent amount of ear candy, and would sound right at home on modern Top 40 radio. Hell, in a musical climate that includes LMFAO, Ke$ha and the Black Eyed Peas, Nickelback is almost a preferable option when it comes to that type of music.
With only one real misstep among the album’s 11 songs (“Kiss It Goodbye” is the one truly offensive song on the album), Here & Now is no better or worse than any album Nickelback has ever put out. Actually, it could be argued that they’ve actually made variations on the same album-hell, the same song, 60 or so times in the past decade and change. While I don’t think Here & Now will find a home in the discriminating music listener’s collection (and it won’t in mine; thank you Spotify), Nickelback’s latest album isn’t a complete piece of crap. It’s just…a Nickelback album. If inoffensive heartland-rock is your thing, you’ll jizz over this. For the rest of us, well while there are certainly better options, a quick look at the top 40 chart reveals that you could do a LOT worse.
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