Nickelback have always been on the receiving end of some really harsh criticism, and I don’t think No Fixed Address will have done them any favours. With this album there has clearly been some experimentation with style but sadly this only leaves it seeming inconsistent and disjointed. It will be interesting to see how fans of the band will react to this album, but I can already tell that it will have provided their haters with plenty of fuel. I have always been a fan of Nickelback but I must admit that from the moment I saw that there was a song featuring Flo Rida, I had an uneasy feeling about their direction with this album.
‘Million Miles An Hour’ is actually the perfect opening track for this album. It combines the powerful instrumentals and repetitive angst driven lyrics that are characteristically Nickelback with some new overly synthesized vocals. Without these effects on Chad Kroeger’s vocals this song would have been up there with some of Nickelback’s better songs, but instead they just make it sound like it has been recorded on some dodgy equipment. It really does feel like they weren’t quite sure what they wanted to do with this album and just decided to do a little bit of everything, creating an odd, seemingly unfinished mish-mash.
However, despite plenty of the songs not sounding quite right and not really complementing one another, there are a few songs that standalone pretty solidly. Of all the pop-minded songs that No Fixed Address offers, ‘What Are You Waiting For’ is the one of the few that I feel appeals to both old and new fans alike. Although the synthesized effects may seem alien when added to Chad’s gruff vocals, ‘What Are You Waiting For’ feels like a poppier version of ‘If Today Was Your Last Day’, with the same ‘all guns blazing’ overtones. The new style seems to work with their slower, heartfelt songs but not with their more powerful songs like the album opener. Having said this however, the majority of the new pop-centric songs are pretty diabolical.
‘She Keeps Me Up’ is the most differently styled song on the record placing funky beats and bizarre pre-teen cringey tones, alongside out of place sexual overtones. There’s just something strange about hearing Chad’s gravely voice saying “funky little monkey” over and over…I felt genuinely scared. In the past they’ve been accused of having cliché lyrics, yet with this song they’re fully embraced this trope and sided with the nonsensical. What even is a “Coca-cola rollercoaster” meant to be anyway?
Hopefully these songs will be the type that grow on you once you accept the band’s new style, but as far as first impressions go, No Fixed Address just doesn’t stand up to their past offerings. A more universally popular band may have been able to get away with this kind of experimentation but this album feels like a risk too far. I will continue to listen to this album despite the damage it may cause to my eardrums, but only as a result of how long I’ve been a fan. This record certainly pales in comparison to the likes of Silver Side Up, All The Right Reasons, and Dark Horse, and I fear they won’t be making many new fans any time soon.