REVIEW: Nickelback – Get Rollin’

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Having amassed hits for over 2 decades now, NICKELBACK ranks as the eleventh best-selling musical act of all time with over 50 million albums sold. It is, no doubt, a rather bitter pill to swallow for the uppity music snobs for whom this Canadian bunch has been but the butt of ridicule from the heyday of their blockbuster hit, “How You Remind Me,” 20-something years ago. On November 18th, 2022, NICKELBACK released their tenth studio album, the first in 5 years, via BMG. While the new selection, bearing the album title “Get Rollin’,” is instantly recognizable, perhaps due to vocalist Chad Kroeger‘s signature belting, there is also a new level of heaviness that I cannot remember hearing from this bunch before. Then again, I’m sure some of the softer songs on this new offering will also provide more fuel to the fire for those who are wholeheartedly determined to keep hating the band. Yes, these Canadians sure know how to be radio-friendly, but I’m not entirely sure why it should necessarily be a bad thing. I mean… if not sounding “smooth” enough for radio play was the virtue to go by, I guess we should all be listening to IGORRR.

The album opener, “San Quentin” sets things in motion with a good pinch of heavy riffing and a steady rolling rock ‘n’ roll groove not that far from vintage MÖTLEY CRUE or AC/DC outings – with a tad less sleaze and alcohol fumes, obviously. A similar groove continues on “Skinny Little Missy,” with the song’s hard-rock stomp being strongly reminiscent of bands such as BLACK STONE CHERRY and KRIS BARRAS BAND, while Kroeger‘s vocal delivery triggers subtle flashbacks of the band’s older hits. There’s definitely a good booty-kicking vibe not that far from the boogie of NICKELBACK’s 2008 banger, “Burn It To the Ground.”

Okay, the third track, “Those Days,” plunges into a softer mood with acoustic guitars and singalong choruses – no doubt provoking a slight migraine in the heads of all trve kvlt heavy-metal aficionados. If this song is not yet enough to convince them to dismiss the new NICKELBACK endeavor as a crime against humanity, the country-influenced follow-up, “High Time,” sure will. I do consider myself a tad more open-minded, but I must admit that these two cuts are not perhaps the best calling cards for the album, albeit they did not prompt me to press the skip button either. If truth be told, I would still rather listen to these than to the band’s hit, “When We Stand Together” from 2011, with all due respect.

Okay, five songs into the album, I might still struggle a bit to make up my mind whether to purchase it or not. “Vegas Bomb” is yet another decent, riff-driven hard-rock boogie like the first two bangers on the outing. Then, a little unexpectedly, the make-or-break track turns out to be one of the softest in the selection: “Tidal Wave” is an atmospheric song that sounds almost more like Bryan Adams having a blast with some modern indie outfit, such as ARCTIC MONKEYS or EDITORS, rather than a hard-rock bunch flirting with pop. The sparkling guitars take a good deep nod towards the widescreen pop realms of 1980s-tinted new-wave rock. With a nice tempo delay, the song could have even fitted U2‘s magnificent “Joshua Tree” album from 1987. On further listening, Kroeger‘s signature hard-rock phrasing is maybe the only thing giving away that the song is not, in fact, some previously unreleased gem unearthed from the TALK TALK archives. Oh, yes – despite the fact that the song has somewhat syrupy lyrics, it is the definitive standout track on the album.

The syrup factor gears up rather prominently on “Does Heaven Even Know You’re Missing?” The lyrics notwithstanding, the song isn’t even that bad but, I cannot help it, the lyrics do churn my stomach quite a bit. If there is one thing I simply cannot come to terms with, it is a love song with clichéd lyrics about heaven missing an angel – you know, that Barry White stuff that almost comes off like a celebration of unhealthy attachment issues. By and large, the new NICKELBACK outing is pretty good but I would rather have it without this particular song. It helps if I think of the song’s lyrics as an account of a psychotic episode on some extremely potent psychoactive drugs. Isn’t that what falling in love by its de facto nature is? 

Next up, “Steel Still Rusts” and “Horizon” resonate perhaps with the thickest air of the band’s old hits – perhaps minus the instant killer choruses that those old blockbusters came equipped with. Placing them after the more banging tracks is a good move on the band’s part. While they are not merely album fodder, they do not offer much in terms of surprise. With repeated spins, they might actually grow on you. You could almost say the same thing about “Standing in the Dark,” except that the song has a tad more killer of a chorus, and I picked a nice reminiscence of the Finnish rock outfit, POETS OF THE FALL, as well. Lyrically, the song feels almost as though picking up on where “Does Heaven Even Know You’re Missing” left off – that is, the lyrics come off as another chapter in the story. In fact, the syrupy narrative of the latter starts to make more sense now. Then, the album closer, “Just One More,” feels like the final addendum to the same story. So, could there be some overarching theme to the album? At a glance, it doesn’t seem so, but then again, I guess it’s up to the listeners to interpret the lyrics as they best see fit. Nonetheless, this is hardly a concept album in the prog sense of the term.

In conclusion, NICKELBACK‘s new album has its ups and downs but, all things considered, it is a worthy addition to their back catalog. The band that everybody so loves to hate shows no signs of becoming a thing of the past. While the band has never been about revolutionizing music, songs such as “Tidal Wave” show that these arena rockers aren’t afraid to step outside the box now and then. Of course, publicly admitting to supporting this particular band might subject one to the most austere and unforgiving environment imaginable – the brethren of music snobs – but to hell with them; NICKELBACK has never been half as bad as they have made the band appear in their self-righteous whalesongs. If you don’t believe me, treat yourself to a challenge and check this new NICKELBACK effort out immediately.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. San Quentin
  2. Skinny Little Missy
  3. Those Days
  4. High Time
  5. Vegas Bomb
  6. Tidal Wave
  7. Does Heaven Even Know You’re Missing?
  8. Steel Still Rusts
  9. Horizon
  10. Standing in the Dark
  11. Just One More

Lineup

Chad Kroeger – vocals, guitars

Ryan Peake – guitars, backing vocals

Mike Kroeger – bass

Daniel Adair – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Label

BMG

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