Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review: Nickelback - Dark Horse (* 1/2)

I realize that Chewing Gum For The Ears leans much more toward the indie/alternative side of music, but I still dig a good rock 'n' roll record every once in a while. Back in high school, I enjoyed Nickelback's first two U.S. releases The State and Silver Side Up despite the fact that both were big, dumb rock records. Since that time, I always give the new Nickelback album a listen, just for old times sake.

The band's fifth album, Dark Horse, due out on Tuesday, raises the bigness AND dumbness to new heights. With songs ranging from sex-crazed rock anthems to uber-generic love ballads, the band aim low and hit the target squarely each time. Sure, the execution is great, these guys have this down to a science, but crappy songs executed well still suck. I'm confident this album will sell a billion copies or so, but this is soulless, mindless music, even for the mainstream scene.

I will say this for Nickelback, the band can rock pretty hard, like the ode to destruction, "Burn It To The Ground" or the high-class prostitute rocker, "Shakin' Hands." Also, guitarist Ryan Peake has discovered a love for solos, which show up on (and enhance) quite a few songs on the album (and even earned the record an extra half star; I'm a sucker). Unfortunately, despite a few fun moments, Dark Horse predominately switches gears from ugly and coarse to bland and forgettable. "Next Go Round" (basically a nastier rewrite of "Feeling Way To Damn Good") and "S.E.X." are all sleaze, while "Gotta Be Somebody" and "If Today Was Your Last Day" sound like 7th grade poetry, only it's not cute when 30-somethings do it. I know people have been writing about horniness and loneliness for a long time now, but Nickelback do nothing to make the subjects interesting or even tolerable.

I guess the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies here. Nickelback have no reason to change the formula that made All The Right Reasons go seven times platinum in the U.S., but that doesn't make the music any less awful, either. I doubt I'll be tempted to give the next album a chance.


Alex said...

nice review, flowed really well.
I too won't expect much from Nickleback, havn't for a loong while now haha.


Alex said...

It is a great album, make sure you check out their Floating World album - great stuff.

I'll return the favour, no problems at all.