Entertainment

Nickelback's 'No Fixed Address': Five ways the band have upped their game

By Darryl Sterdan, Special to Postmedia Network

Entertainment Review

Nickelback, No Fixed Address

3 stars

Nickelback
No Fixed Address

Marriage and middle age change a man. Even a man like Chad Kroeger, it would seem.

It sounds hard to believe, I know. But it’s the only logical conclusion to be drawn from Nickelback’s eighth studio album.

Arriving more than a year after his mercilessly maligned marriage to arrested-adolescent pop princess Avril Lavigne — and roughly coinciding with his 40th birthday on Nov. 15 — No Fixed Address marks some major sonic and stylistic shifts for the monarch of the mullet and his band of bros. Oh, fans needn’t worry too much. There are still plenty of post-grunge power-chord riffs, anthemic arena-rock choruses, gruff vocals and expletive-filled lyrics about drugs, partying and doin’ it “right here on the counter.” (Note to self: Never eat at the Kroeger-Lavigne house.)

But between those familiarly icky touchstones, there is evidence to suggest that the Chad is (believe it or not) evolving. Here are some ways No Fixed Address — which arrives in stores Tuesday — is not your older brother’s Nickelback album:

Electronics

Opening cut Million Miles an Hour starts in deep space, then blasts off with druggy lyrics — “Take one of those and two of these / Then watch the walls begin to breathe” — and sonics to match. Chad’s heavily treated vocals sound like they’re coming from underwater, while the backing track is layered with pulsing, throbbing synths to balance out the interstellar-overdrive guitars. Even the solo sounds like it’s being played on a guitar synth. And it’s just one of several cuts that flirt with electronics. Already, No Fixed Address is boldly going where no Nickelback album has gone before.

Politics

You may have heard the album’s first single Edge of a Revolution. Either way, you haven’t heard a Nickelback song like it. “Hey! Hey! Just obey! / Your secret’s safe with the NSA,” barks Kroeger, going on to blast the CIA and Wall Street malfeasance in the most topical song he’s ever written. There’s even a rabble-rousing call-and-response chorus: “What do we want? We want change! And how we going to get there? REVOLUTION!” OK, it ain’t exactly The Clash. But for these guys, it’s … well, revolutionary. Even to them. As Kroeger recently told one interviewer: “I'm just as surprised as anybody else when something comes out of my mouth.”

Grooves

Kroeger used to write songs for (and about) strippers. Now he’s the one getting down. She Keeps Me Up is a straight-up shot of sex-machine disco-funk driven by a four-on-the-floor beat, an in-the-pocket bassline and slinky guitar stabs. Full credits for the album weren’t available at press time — but if that isn’t the missus on backup vocals, it’s close enough for rock ’n’ roll.

Keyboards

Nickelback have toyed with piano and organ on songs before. But they’re never incorporated keyboards as extensively as they do here. Several cuts — especially epic-strength power ballads like What Are You Waiting For, Satellite, Miss You and The Hammer’s Coming Down — feature swirling, swooshing synths prominently. How (or even if) they’re going to pull this off live remains to be seen. Ditto how their headbanging fans will respond.

Flo Rida

Yes, the chart-topping rapper. He guests on the Latin-tinged funkathon Got Me Running Around — which also boasts a horn section, scratchy wah-wah guitar licks and percussion. All that’s missing is a Santana guitar solo. Guess Chad is saving something for next time.

Twitter: @darryl_sterdan

darryl.sterdan@sunmedia.ca


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