Review: Nickelback – Here and Now

Written by: Sion Smith


It’s easy to take pot-shots at a band that have set themselves up for target practice.

Go ahead and ask any of the bands that have been accused of all the things currently levelled at Nickelback. AC/DC and ZZ Top spring to mind off the top of my head which puts them in good company as far as I’m concerned.

Nickelback Here and Now album coverTake a look at any of the reviews that will follow the release of Here and Now. I guarantee that 95% of them will give it a poke with stick like it’s a dead bird, criticism will abound for it sounding the same as the last album, and the one before that and the one before…

But that misses the point somewhat. There’s a new Jane’s Addiction album out at the moment too. From them, I expect an adventurous, questioning spirit. That’s what they do. Nickelback not so much. What I expect from them is ten big-ass chunky arena rock tracks. Sure – swap ’em around from album to album. I don’t care but I can honestly say that over the last ten years, Nickelback have probably been my most constant companion in the car. That’s what they do.

Having staked my claim reasonably close to the front of the queue here and established up front the expectation, it qualifies me more than the fools to comment on Here and Now.

Sigh… more tales of drinking, rocking hard, leaving your lovers behind. Freakin’ A. I was beginning to lose faith that anybody would make a decent album this year that I could connect with and wouldn’t walk away from before the end of it. Sad as you may think it, it took until this far in the year for anything to surface that was worth a damn and that came from Kelly Clarkson.

Level the guns if you wish but after a lifetime of being subjected to earth shattering rock shows and innovation in the studio, I’ve reached a point now where what I want to hear is some solid records being made. Nickelback are part of that pantheon.

Here and Now has no need for description. You already know what it sounds like – shit, even my Ma could venture a stab at what it sounds like (she could even write a review without hearing it if she tried hard enough), though it should be noted that the production is white hot. I guess Joe Normal would never notice that the production values have been raised with each subsequent album but that’s OK.

That’s what Joe Normal does.

 




Author: Sion Smith

My name is Sion Smith. I write about rock music, books and pop-culture – kind of like a rock n roll Nick Hornby or maybe Hank Moody with hair. Sion is pronounced as in Sean Connery/Shawn Michaels – take your pick. If you’re interested, it’s Welsh. I'm also the editor of Skin Deep, the biggest selling tattoo magazine in the UK and harbour designs on writing for Doctor Who – these two things are not related. Aside from that, I’m currently working on a TV screenplay called Fox On The Run and also contribute articles to The Void - which you know already because you're here. You can jump on the feed of my own blog at sionsmith.co.uk.

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Responses to Review: Nickelback – Here and Now

  1. Great outlook on the whole Nickelback thing. I love the band and the album is terrific. I think the band have tried some new stuff on this album and I love it.

    “Don’t Ever Let End” is a real heart warmer.

  2. I honestly don’t understand when someone critizes when they hear something that sounds like Nickelback and it is Nickelback. Bands should have their own distinct sound so they’re recognized. Nickelback should sound like Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman should sound like TOAD, 3DD should sound like 3DD, etc. So I say quit listening to Nickelback if you expect them to sound like Vampire Weekend or some other garbage that gets labeled as music. They day Nickelback doesn’t sound like themselves and had to sellout to sell a record is the day I’ll stop buying.

    btw, I love Here and Now. Not a single song on there I don’t like.

  3. Viva Nickelback, me muero por ver a Nickelback en España

  4. The main reasons people get the shits about this music is because it’s constantly shoved down their throats at the expense of better and more interesting music.And then people like myself who grew up on heavy metal and punk are told by the media or whoever that this is rock music.If you like it.Good for you.Enjoy.But personally I’d like to hear a more interesting chorus than “Hey hey hey.” “Yeah yeah yeah” on the fucking radio.You have to understand. Heaps of us grew up on music that is much more adventurous and interesting than this stuff and we expect more from bands.In saying that.Here’s a poser for you all.How many bands out there who have made 5 albums or more have got better? I mean,make an album where every song’s a winner.Especially bands who are up to album 7 or more.The truth is.Most groups best album is usually one of their first.

  5. Sion Smith (author of piece!)No Gravatar

    Good points Dee. People like myself also grew up on it, I’m not eighteen (well, some may disagree). There’s a ton more interesting music for sure… go check out the Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) album, it’s an immense slab of thoughtful music, but my point is that rock is still at its best when it gets primal. I grew up on Kiss and Twisted Sister… people said the same things about them. The entire point is that when rock is primal, stupid, fun and makes you feel good, surely there’s nothing better?

    That’s what mainstream rock critics don’t get because they’re approaching it as a product and not as a lifestyle accompaniment. I got enough to think about without having to think about my music choices as well – and this Nickelback album hits the right nerve. It’s loud, there’s little point to the lyrics and it’s great fun. That’s what Nickelback do – there’s nothing wrong with that. To deviate would be the death of them for sure.

    But you know in your heart what ‘rock’ is man. What’s this sentence “told by the media what rock is”? The ‘media’ is not always right and you obviously know better than that! If you dissect it, Nickelback are a heavy pop band – and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. No shame at all. If everybody would just throw genres in the trash and enjoy shit if it strikes a chord with them, we’d all be in a better place.

    To answer your other question, bands who make more than five albums are lucky to still be going to be honest. It’s because back when rock was truly awesome, bands were given at least that amount of time to grow. There was no crime in having three albums nobody had ever heard of before something great happened. These days, if your first album doesn’t sell, you get dropped by your label and nobody will pick you up after that.

    Those things are business driven and often have little or nothing to do with the band. I guess those are the choices you make these days. Do it yourself and it takes 10 years to get somewhere or take your shot with a major label and run like hell.

    First albums are always brilliant because a band has to choose ten songs out of dozens from the last four years when they record it. Second albums are mostly made up of either stuff that didn’t make it to that first album or panic writing. Again – it’s just the way the industry makes them behave. Remember the days when a band had to release two albums a year or they were dust? Those days should be right here, right now. I miss those days…

    Either way – it’s better than working a McJob whatever anybody thinks of you – right?

  6. Great review, although I think there’s something beneath all the bravado and overly sexual lyrics.

    A song like Lullaby which is based on Kroeger’s childhood, where his babysitter found out about a loved one who had died and Kroeger witnessed her crying her eyes out. The lyrics are simple and to the point but they pack a punch for me anyway. A song like Don’t Ever Let It End may seem like just a big catchy love letter but it perfectly gets across the mixed bag of emotion a person would feel in that position.

    But ultimately Nickelback does the big rock numbers with huge choruses terrifically and their critics tend to malign them for doing exactly what they’ve set out to do.

    Nickelback will always be the beating boys for ridicule and jabs but I’d take their no nonsense approach to rock over all the pretentious stuff that supposed to be so much better. Last time I checked ZZ Top, Kiss and AC/DC are still being listened to today and they never pretended to be anything other straight up rock n roll.

  7. “Here and Now has no need for description. You already know what it sounds like – shit”

    Sorry, I had to. Just kidding. (kind of)


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