It's probably not true that a hook comes out every time Nickelback's Chad Kroeger passes gas, but it's the kind of myth you can certainly believe.
Since "The State" came out in 2000 -- and especially since "How You Remind Me" put the Canadian quartet on the top of the charts a year later -- Nickelback has been one of the century's most consistent hitmakers, racking up format-crossing hits in pop, rock and AC and sales statistics more akin to the good ol' days than the digital age. The band specializes in meat-and-potatoes songs catchy enough to leave even the haters humming them well after the final fade. Whether they're anthems or ballads, Nickelback serves them up with memorable melodies and precision sonics, old school aesthetics for a new world.
And if it's not broken, why fix it? "Here and Now," Nickelback's self-produced seventh album, comes after the group's adventure with super-producer Mutt Lange on 2008's triple-platinum "Dark Horse" and certainly carries some of the lessons of that master class. The set's 11 tracks are amiably all over the board, from the metallic edge of "This Means War" to the gritty boogie of "Midnight Queen," the chunky grooves of "Kiss It Goodbye" and "Gotta Get Some" to the soft-touch sentimentality of "Lullaby," "Holding On To Heaven" and "Don't Ever Let It End," the boozy fist-waving of "Bottoms Up" to the social consciousness of "When We Stand Together" -- "Here and Now's" first two, simultaneously released singles.
Girls, liquor, parties, pole dancing? Check. A little bit of love in the mix? Check that, too. And hooks out the...yazoo? What do you think?
Want to know what's what on "Here and Now?" Check out our track-by-track review of the album, then tell us what you think in the comments section.
1. This Means War: Gritty, metallic guitars. Plenty of anger and dynamic intensity. Nickelback's version of a five-finger death punch.
2. Bottoms Up: Drummer Daniel Adair's big beat leads into a slink guitar groove, and by the middle of the first verse we're all drinking shots and making toasts.
3. When We Stand Together: A bouncy bass line from Mike Kroeger introduces this acoustic guitar-laced call to action anthem. And the drumbeat does carry on...
4. Midnight Queen: A fast-paced, tough-guy rocker with buzzsaw guitar and a confession that someone's "addicted to the red-light show." We're SO surprised.
5. Gotta Get Some: Chad Kroeger's dream girl "smokes a little homegrown, drinks a little Cuervo" and drives a fast sports car. Again, we're SO surprised.
6. Lullaby: When did these guys become Coldplay? Well...not quite, but the spectral, ambient intro provides a fresh vibe for this sweet-tempered ballad.
7. Kiss It Goodbye: Some echoey vocals and industrial underpinnings creep into this chunky, hard-hitting, angsty groove-rocker.
8. Trying Not To Love You: This richly arranged and carefully ornamented paean to romantic ambivalence has pop crossover -- and country cover -- potential written all over it.
9. Holding On To Heaven: There's no second thoughts here; just a moon-eyed love song whose lyrics will likely find its way into a few high school yearbooks.
10. Everything I Wanna Do: Add a "dirty mouth" to Kroeger's list of desired attributes for a woman on this ebb-and-flow melodic rocker.
11. Don't Ever Let It End: The gentle, harmonic Nickelback closes the album with a tale about a couple exploring the delicate balance romantic lust and friendship.