Venturing into the studio for the seventh time, Nickelback's latest attempts have yielded what one might expect from a radio-rock band repeatedly accused of being tried, unimaginative and in many cases stale: a run-of-the-mill radio-rock album that is tried, unimaginative and in many cases, stale. Here and Now shocks no one; complete with all the interchangeable, cookie-cutter parts the band is known for - themes centering around sex, drugs and rock n' roll, power chords laced over a heavy baseline and the all-to-familiar gravely vocals of frontman Chad Kroeger – it is a formulaic release from a formulaic band and that's just the way they want it.
Nickelback has never been interested in pandering to critics and haters; they make music their core fan base knows and loves and that seems enough considering they ranked 11th on the list of best-selling music acts of the 2000s. They’re following a tried and true trail to the top, blazed by forerunners like AC/DC and KISS: make music that rocks because music that rocks sells. The critics can say what they want; this is a business where dollars speak louder than any of their words and Nickelback has a whole fistful of them.
And they’ll make plenty more with Here and Now. The album starts in their usual fast pace tempo, wasting no time tackling the big three themes Nickelback can’t seem to exhaust: whiskey, women and getting wild. Turns out “they love their whiskey, [they] drink that shit ‘til its dry” and they love their women “who smoke a little homegrown and drink a little Cuervo.” The first four tracks all seem to bleed into one long party (and song) and just as you thought they were going to seriously pull out an album not catering to a pay check it falls into the familiar radio sound with the acoustic ballad “Lullaby,” and the forcibly conscientious “When We Stand Together.” “Kiss it Goodbye” takes a few easy pot shots at fake nature of Hollywood and “Everything I Wanna Do” is just short of lyrical porn; they throw in a few more made-for-radio tracks like “Holding on to Heaven” and “Don’t Ever Let It End” for balance and call it a day at a lofty 39 minutes.
Which is really more than enough. Once we hit refrains like “you and me, sitting in a tree, F-U-C-K-I-N-G” most would agree we’ve exhausted the talent pool. Nevertheless, the album will certainly appeal to the rabid fan base and most definitely annoy the critics pining for progression. Their sound is neither refined nor reinvented; it is not better or worse than any album before it. It is just another chapter in a bands boring book that will sell millions and millions of copies.
Best Tracks: "This Means War," "Bottom's Up," "Midnight Queen"
Skip These: "Everything I Wanna Do," "Don't Ever Let it End," "Holding on to Heaven"