Review Summary: 20th Century Nickelback plays in 6/4 and writes about the Holocaust.
Imagine a fresh young Nickelback, making the rounds through Canadian towns in the late 90s, trying to promote themselves and their music. It's hard to separate that band from the modern Nickelback and their machine-esque process of album making, to which they seem to have a formula which hasn't changed in a decade (I could spend all day on the comparisons between every album from The Long Road
to Here and Now
). While they are adored by millions and loathed by critics now, the band's second LP, The State
was long before this.
Nickelback's sound on the The State
is the same as the straightforward post-grunge of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The first half of the songs are lyrically driven, while the second half clearly focus around guitar riffs that repeat several times over the course of most of the verses and/or choruses.
Chad Kroeger's voice plays to strengths of the first half of The State
. In several of the songs, the emotional pain of the lyrics sounds quite real. Take the final chorus of "Old Enough" as an example. It's even more evident in the album's first song, "Breathe," ("All I ever really wanted was / To be like you / So perfect / So worthless / If I could take it all back think again / I would"). Kroeger stands at the front of the first single, "Leader of Men". While the unique structure and quiet-to-loud dynamic is worth noting, nothing else in the song is.
The guitars begin to take over with "Worthy to Say," a surprisingly well-layered track focusing on drug-induced paranoia (no really, check out the lyrics). In fact, the themes of the album often cover the different institutions that rule over people, whether it's religion ("Not Leavin' Yet"), parents ("Cowboy Hat"), or the state itself. The final example is shown in the dense but heartbreaking "Hold Out Your Hand", a song about the pain and suffering of the Holocaust.
has its lighter moments in the catchy "Deep" and 6/4 grooves of "Diggin' This". Even in these guitar-driven songs, Nickelback manages to provide more musical value than in the albums they would go on to release in the following years. There's no single component that makes this album successful. Sure, there's the occasional odd moment like the Arabian-sounding bridge of "Hold Out Your Hand", but those moments are easily forgotten amidst the guitar crunch that makes up the majority of the album. The early post-grunge simplicity actually feels more complex than what the genre became. At their best, Nickelback is on par with Bush and Foo Fighters, and worth a listen to anyone who finds themselves interested in modern rock.
I'd also prefer to give this album a 3.7, but as a lowly user, I'm rounding up.