Review Summary: New formula, new sound, and a step in the right direction, (albeit a small one) for a band who has been a punching bag for many years.
Let me start by saying this, "No Fixed Address" is not terrible. In fact, there are moments of pure creativity here, which is largely uncharted territory for Nickelback. There are some groovy and downright clever and catchy songs on this album. That said, there are some very low moments as well, and it's these moments that keep this album from transforming Kroeger and company into a different band altogether.
I thought it necessary to review this from start to finish since it can be classified by either good or bad. There's not really much in between. "No Fixed Address" kicks off like any other Nickelback album. A slow build up sliding into a barrage of heavy riffs, Chad's distorted voice singing about taking drugs. Great, another disappointing and cringe worthy Nickelback outing. "Edge of a Revolution" is no better, and though the lyrics may be a refreshing departure from drinking, doing drugs, and throwing out innuendos about sex, it falls flat by following the same repetitive and easily digested Nickelback formula. One of their singles "What are you Waiting For" is just awful. "Inspirational" lyrics with a "nice" melody makes this song all to generic and downright mundane. Moving on. I almost gave up mid listen, because, why bother? I pushed on, and to my surprise, the middle section of "No Fixed Address" actually made me want more. Unbelievable.
"She Keeps Me Up" starts off with with a funky beat paired with a staccato guitar riff. Nickelback and disco? Ignoring the fact that those two words NEVER should belong together, I dug it! I could listen to this all day and it made me want to jump up and start dancing. Some advice to the band, write more music like this and you will gain some fans that used to hate you. No joke. "Make me Believe Again" is a mid tempo entry with an uplifting melody, but this track is somewhat average. Not their worst or best. "Satellite" is fantastic. The lyrics give off a feeling of nostalgia. Growing up, first loves, finding happiness in an age of change, it's just a great feel good track. "Get 'Em Up" begins with a southern, bluesy, groovy riff. The dueling electric and dobro-esque sound gives you something to bang your head to, and the lyrics immediately reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde robbing banks. All in all, it's a quite addictive piece.
The vibe abruptly shifts with "The Hammer's Coming Down" giving off a moody, dark, and atmospheric sound relaying a marching echo of the snare. Coupled with the not-too-terrible end of the world lyrics, it's quite easy to get lost in the wave of the instrumentation. Unfortunately though, good things must come to an end, and that end came with the beginning of the next track. "Miss You" is yet another ballad about missing someone. Chad displays a million ways to say the exact same thing. We get the point, you miss her. Sadly, it doesn't get much better. Come on guys, do you have to end on such a bad note? The first half of "Got Me Runnin' Round" throws out another funky vibe that definitely has similarities to Santana. I was into it, until Flo Rida came in. You heard me right. Flo Rida on a Nickelback track. Why? Why ruin a good thing? I don't hate Flo Rida, but it just doesn't sit well with me. This is supposed to be a groovy song but it turns into an awkward hip hop/rock mash-up that doesn't work. "Sister Sin" ends an average album in a massively average way. Don't get me wrong, this song has it's moments. The chorus is pleasant, and the tonal shifts give it more of a complex feel, but the song ends up feeling very repetitive.
In short, "No Fixed Address" could have been so much more. It is definitely refreshing to see Nickelback branch out try something different, and it would have worked if they hadn't fallen back into that same arena rock, crowd pleasing trap. That said, I can definitely say that I didn't hate this album, and I'll probably give it a few more listens. Maybe it will grow on me. For now, I see it as an average outing with a few "wow" moments.
She Keeps Me Up
Get 'Em Up
The Hammer's Coming Down
First half of Got Me Runnin' Round