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Nickelback “Dark Horse” (2008) November 22, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2008, Nickelback.

Written by Andrew

Chad Kroeger has done the very opposite of lyrical evolution as his Canadian juggernaut named Nickelback has become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Ever since “I like your pants around your feet” sprung out of his mouth on the band’s 2003 record The Long Road, the vocalist’s quartet has become famous for cheesy ballads and strip club anthems. However, Nickelback has gotten away with it thanks to well crafted melodies and addictive choruses. Nothing lasts forever I guess, as Nickelback is trying to prove with their latest escapade, Dark Horse.

In typical Kroeger fashion, the lead track of Dark Horse begins with “Got to meet the hottie with the million dollar body.” To no one’s surprise, the song named “Something In Your Mouth” is sex-driven, club-hopper with number one single tattooed all over it. With much the same appeal as the Theory of a Deadman smash “Bad Girlfriend”, this opening track sounds promising to the start of this CD, though obviously not based on name or lyrics. No, this electronically influenced anthem gets by thanks to a very interesting format and some incredibly catchy backbeats. Much to my dismay, I found myself in love with the song quickly, something I wish I could say applied to the rest of the album.

The next track starts what becomes a running theme with Nickelback’s newest endeavor, and suffers from a condition I have come to refer to as “partial ineptitude.” In lame mens terms, this means the song sounds really awesome at some points, and then makes you want to blow your brains out at another part. “Burn It To The Ground” has an explosive chorus with a great deal of hook, something destined to make it an ESPN highlight reel at some point. The verses however, are force fed into your ear like a suppository, an unwelcome expedition that most describe as uncomfortable, though I guess some are indifferent. This same formula applies to “Next Go Round” which while on the subject, is the obvious sequel to the notoriously filthy “Animals”.

“I’d Come For You” is the same way, but to the opposite effect, with a great opening hook to open up this fantastically written ballad. Kroeger’s echoing voice serves as a nice ambient touch to the slowed-down verses, but right as the chorus hits, the emotion of the song simply feels lost and turns into another terrible love ballad, not one with the touching atmosphere the first minute would lead you to believe. Still, the track is certainly tolerable, and will almost certainly be a mainstream success. It’s disappointing however, as the lead single “Gotta Be Somebody” is a much better ballad, despite the 80’s lite pop backing.

Each of these first five tracks is enjoyable in it’s own right, minus the respective flaws, and then you are met with the album standout; “Just To Get High”. The song deals with a man (a friend of Kroeger’s presumably) who throws away everything just for that next hit of whatever drug is his flavor of the week. The writing is nothing revolutionary, but the delivery is where the song stands out. The chorus is bombastic and gains more power with each run through, and the bridge also features the first Nickelback guitar solo in recent memory, which needless to say is very well played. I’d love to say this is where the album takes it’s turn to Happy Town, but I would be sadly remiss.

See, Nickelback apparently forgot what made each of their first five albums so damn good, and that is the hard rocking edge they applied to every single song, with few exceptions. Dark Horse loses a great deal of steam with generic ballads and alternative rock tunes down the stretch. “Never Gonna Be Alone” is a predictable and uneventful excursion, “Shakin’ Hands” is so strangely paced that it’s hard to get involved in it at all, and “S.E.X.”, aside from having the worst title ever, is catchy to a degree but also far too industrial feeling and heavy on the bass line. “If Today Was Your Last Day” is the only other mildly successful ballad on the disc, but being surrounded by “S.E.X.” and the country-laden “This Afternoon” is not doing it’s feel any favors.

Really, I wish Nickelback hadn’t made this disc. For years I’ve been the guy who has to stand up with the band who has an unnecessarily bad rap for it’s stupid lyrics and mainstream appeal, because all this time the music backed me up. With Dark Horse, Nickelback retains both of the aforementioned traits, but also abandons their hard rocking roots with few exceptions, and makes a disc that’s almost impossible to sit through without skipping a track or two. Diehard Nickelback fans may get a kick out of it, but I always thought I was one of those fans. Now, I’m not so sure I haven’t seen the last of the Nickelback I fell in love with, and this new and “improved” Nickelback.

The Point – These songs will fit in well on the radio as they all have half-decent hooks, but half the songs feel incomplete, and the other half are flat out generic, with few exceptions. There’s not a lot to love with this Dark Horse.

3 out of 10

Download This – “Just To Get High”



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