Dark Horse

Written by: PP on 10/12/2008 12:39:44

Everyone has an opinion on Nickelback. Most of these opinions tend to be negative, and the loudest of them circulate around them being commercially manufactured, that they have sold out, that they are boring, and that all their songs sound the same. The problem with accusing the band of selling out is that they've done it so consistently on the six albums they've now released (including this one, "Dark Horse") that they've become rather unique in their expression. Whenever you hear a song by them in the radio, you'll always know it's them, and whether or not you like to admit it or not, they've written a whole bunch of ridiculously catchy songs ("Someday", "How You Remind Me", "Photograph" etc). Yeah, they may be formulaic, but there's no denying in that they are also excellent pop songs - these guys know how to write pop rock fucking well. That they have that post-grunge twinge to it just makes it appeal to a wider audience, and hey, how many bands do you know who have an instantly attributable sound to them?

However, while the band has consistently rocked the charts with three or four excellent singles on each album, they haven't been very consistent on their albums as a whole. Every album - aside from "Curb" and "Silver Side Up", both of which were very good overall - has had the excellent singles, with the rest of the album being more or less filler, as if the band is saving their single-capable material so their career will be extended over more albums. "Dark Horse" has the same problem: "Gotta Be Somebody", "Just To Get High", "Today Was Your Last Day", "Next Go Round" are quintessential Nickelback - massive hits with undeniable choruses - if you don't find these irresistibly catchy then there's something wrong with your ears. But at the same time, songs like "Shakin' Hands" are fuckin' terrible, and if there's one song on the record that makes me want to gnaw my own fingers off in desperation, that would be "S.E.X" and it's horrible lyricism (yeah guess what that one is about).

There's also a bit of a surprise on the record in the form of the aforementioned 'hit' "Next Go Round" that's completely new to Nickelback - it actually possesses a sick riff. And it isn't just any riff, it's heavy enough to go on a Mudvayne album. That's probably why this otherwise catchiest song on the record won't ever make it to the radio (the two softest songs are the singles together with "Gotta Be Somebody"). "Burn It To The Ground" also sports surprisingly down tuned groove, who would've thought that after six albums, Nickelback would be capable of that.

In conclusion, "Dark Horse" is like every other Nickelback album so far. It has 4-5 great songs with fantastic choruses that'll stick to your mind like the plague that killed something like 50% of European population in the 1340s. At the same time, the album has a lot of filler that should be disregarded by both music fans and the casual mainstream listeners. But I'm not sure that justifies the kind of hatred this band is often victims of. Nonetheless, for what it's worth, I don't mind Nickelback releasing albums every two or three years and listening to the singles - they are great pop songs, there's just no way around that fact - but I just can't rate them higher because of the inconsistency. Oh the irony of that.


Download: Gotta Be Somebody, Next Go Round
For the fans of: 3 Doors Down, Seether, Hinder, Breaking Benjamin
Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.11.2008
Roadrunner Records

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