Review Summary: As good as it was going to get for Nickelback.
Nickelback is a frustrating band to defend. On the one hand, I never thought they really deserved all the hate they got, since they never really claimed to be anything more than a mainstream rock band, and beyond the catchiness of their singles they could write some good riff-driven rockers here and there. On the other hand, their overexposure and continued push into the realm of awful sleaze-rock and the same rehashed power ballads made me really start to wonder if it was worth it, since it seemed as though Nickelback was just embracing the hatred and starting to prove the haters more right as time went on. However, regardless of what anyone would say about the band, there was
once a time when they put more effort into their songs, and this is where they reached their peak.
Silver Side Up
stands up as the band’s best achievement. The State
was good in its own right and is certainly their best lyrically, but it didn’t quite have enough appeal to really make it stand out. On Silver Side Up
the band blends the grungy style of their older material with the catchiness of their newer material to make what is easily their best work to date. Even the singles were winners on here, and not only that, they were highlights. Too Bad
is the best song here, and probably the band’s best song period, showing a fleeting sign of genuine sentimental value that would soon become lost in the band’s music. Before How You Remind Me
became subject to mass radio butchering to the point of being unlistenable for many people, it was actually a well-written song. It was catchy, and at that point, it wasn’t so easily comparable to the band’s other songs, so it at least wins a few originality points for that. Never Again
may have been a pretty blunt way of addressing abuse, but it’s nonetheless an effective, rockin’ opener that works because of the energy of the song. There’s nothing particularly special about what they do here, it just feels more inspired than their newer stuff.
That’s what makes all the difference. On this album, all the elements of their sound just worked. The band puts out simple but effective riffs, the choruses are solid, Chad’s vocals are improved enough from The State
to make him more listenable throughout, and lyrically it’s much better than their recent material (although there are still a few clunkers here and there). It actually flows well as an album and not just a collection of singles, which is the problem with every other work they’ve put out since. And when they try to rock, they actually succeed. Where Do I Hide
is a legitimately fun hard rocker with a great distorted riff and even a neat little guitar solo in the bridge. It really makes one wish they had focused more on their heavier side and delivered more songs like this, since they did
have the ability to write great hard rock songs without cringe-inducing lyrics. The second half of the album is mostly unremarkable apart from Where Do I Hide
, but even the weaker songs on here are still listenable.
Overall, even with the filler, Silver Side Up
is the band’s best and most consistent work. That may not mean a lot to those who are sick of their constant overexposure, but it still stands as a time when Nickelback put more thought into their songwriting. Despite the fact that it’s not particularly original or unique, it doesn’t deserve much of the hate it gets. I wish I could still say the same for the band, but as they’ve gone further into self-parody with Dark Horse
, defending them has become more and more difficult. Still, I’ll remember this album as the one time when Nickelback got it right for a whole album.