By Kieran Graulich
Is there really a point in reviewing this album? What about Nickelback can be said that hasn’t already been said? Is there a single joke about Chad Kroeger’s inappropriately angry singing style that hasn’t been told? A single insult concerning the band’s dreadfully boring and unoriginal songwriting that has yet to be thrown?
In 2014, it is hard to use Nickelback’s name without evoking a laugh from someone; despite their widespread radio success throughout the 2000s, Nickelback has become a universal musical punchline and widely regarded as one of the worst bands of all time. Whether this claim is valid is up to debate, yet it can be largely agreed upon that when looking at Nickelback one has to try to listen completely objectively; without bias of the image and joke that precedes them. Despite their reputation, even Nickelback deserves a chance.
“No Fixed Address” is an album that proves that Nickelback may not deserve that benefit of the doubt. Supposedly a departure from the “classic” Nickelback sound, “No Fixed Address” was recorded in several locations around the country, similar to how the Foo Fighters used this technique and made a subsequent HBO series on the recording style, investigating the history of each town they recorded in and even invited influential musical figures from the area, such as Gary Clark Jr., Rick Nielsen and even Joan Jett.
Nickelback does make an attempt to experiment with their sound, although experimenting is a strong word, as it would suggest they took a single risk in toying with the sound of this album. The band plays with Top 40 pop sounds and incorporates them messily into their repertoire, such as the Maroon 5 guitar leads on “She Keeps Me Up” or the egregiously out of place synths on “What Are You Waiting For.” Not to say that Nickelback has a mastery over a particular style, but when they stuck to their trademark sound on their earlier albums, it was more passable than the majority of the material on “No Fixed Address.”
Although here, Nickelback cannot even seem to do Nickelback correctly: songs like “A Million Miles an Hour” and “Sister Sin,” although they sound like traditional Nickelback, are laughably bad with insipid lyrics and cheap hooks.
One of the most aggravating aspects of this album is the aforementioned lyricism. Chad Kroeger has never been a poet, exactly, yet the lyrics on this album seem to foray into a new world of mediocrity. Take, for example, the song “What Are You Waiting For,” which sits upon the throne of creatively comatose songs on “No Fixed Address:” “You gotta go and reach for the top/Believe in every dream you got/You’re only living once so tell me/What are you waiting for?” sings Kreoger.
Oddly enough, “No Fixed Address” also includes several stolen melodies from different artists, drawing from the oddest sources. The song “Get ‘Em Up” lifts its main riff directly from Metallica’s “King Nothing,” and “Got Me Runnin’ Round” takes part of its chorus straight from “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer.
“No Fixed Address” is an example of why some bands should not be experimenting with their sound. Though it is unfair to immediately dismiss Nickelback because of the image they’ve developed over the years, one must consider that they developed that image for a reason. With one of the worst albums of 2014, Nickelback have only further dug their grave in the world of musical credibility.
Kieran Graulich is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com