Nickelback • Feed The Machine

Over the years, I’ve done more than my fair share of Nickelback reviews. In print, online… I even put them on the cover of a magazine once — but I always figured sooner or later my luck would die in my arms and I would have to admit that for once, everybody else was right about this band I happened to like for no other reason than I enjoy their company in the car.

To stick the pencil right into the sharpener here, ever since The Long Road was released, give or take a nuance here and there, all Nickelback albums have sounded more or less the same. This is both what we collectively love and (apparently) hate about them — but the band themselves are caught between the rock and the hard place too. To deliver something different now would not be Nickelback and wouldn’t serve their fanbase. The media would shout and point for trying and next time around they would go right back to formula to regain the ground they had lost…

So frankly, they may as well skip a wasted, unwanted album and just carry on as they are. What the critics are missing the point with, is that sometimes, all you want to do is drive to music with a pounding backbeat and some vague lyrics you think you might know but don’t really — which Nickelback have by the truckload. Case in point: the title track of Feed The Machine. Drums up front and centre, a great riff and nothing too strenuous on the vocal front… you’re feeling good as the needle on the dash is creeping up more than you care to notice…

I like Nickelback a lot. Their albums have too many slow songs for ‘like’ to turn into ‘full-time love’ but that’s why The Gods invented digital music and we no longer have to deal with such things. Now, you can create one giant Nickelback playlist called 99 Miles To L.A. and still be as one with Chad when the sirens start to flash in the rear view mirror.

I had cause to drive a Very Long Way yesterday and figured it would be a good plan to let Feed The Machine ride shotgun. It’s solid you know. If you’re a fan, you’re not going to be disappointed in it. It could use a song like Animals or Something In Your Mouth to make it really rock the fuck out, but it’s good enough to bolster your playlist out.

Here’s something interesting though — when the album had finished, I queued up Curb to see where they had come from all those twenty years ago and found that Nickelback have buried their roots deep. They used to sound like a mash-up between Stone Temple Pilots and Our Lady Peace. The album is OK but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to take them around the world. Then I came forwards in time and gave The State an airing. Hmm, I think to myself, reminds me of Candlebox but without any songs I can remember…

The Nickelback journey sure is an erratic one. By the time they hit Silver Side Up, they appear to have figured out how to write great songs, know what kind of a sound they wanted, nailed it all in place with The Long Road and kept going with it… pushing it over and over again until it maxxed out some three albums back — which is exactly what happened to Def Leppard. They got stuck inside of their own formula and never found a way out of the woods and for most of the rock loving world, that’s just fine.

Anyway, there’s a whole bunch of good stuff here. Coin For The Ferryman is a nice little number, Must Be Nice stands up tall with its childish (on purpose) nursery rhyme pastiches and Silent Majority is likely the best track on the album so why it’s buried so far down in the track list is something only a record company exec can explain. Do we still have record company exec’s out there? The remainder will probably find itself silenced inside of my playlist, aside from the track Home which I have become very fond of over the last few days.

And that’s the part that borders on love about Nickelback for me… or maybe it’s just Chad mindset. The man misses home— until he gets there and remembers why he left. Every album, there’s a song like this and I feel comfortable in the way it makes me feel. I miss home too. I miss my friends. I miss the people I used to hang out with — hell, I might even miss the person I used to be and Chad gets it: “I’m the only ghost walking though the hallways” — you hit the nail on the head for me there brother.

I think I miss the way Nickelback used to be too but I can’t be sure. The last few albums have been a little like staying with somebody you love when they’ve wandered too far from the path but later apologised — everything looks the same as it once did but you can’t figure out why your heart isn’t pounding when you hear their key in the door.