Review Summary: In another world, this is what Nickelback would've become had they continued to be 100% mainstream.
There seems to be an ongoing trend with bands from the 90s/00s who manage to put out new material in this current era. Chances are they're efforts focused on political ***, with our president being the only reason for them to come out of their slump in an attempt to be provocative, but just come out as cringeworthy (Ministry, Rage and Eminem withstanding.) Other times (though this is typically a core reason), bands aren't making as much money as they feel they should, radio play royalties and slouching album sales play into this.
But, there's a big hurdle for said bands to overcome. In this day and age, what flies in the music industry is repeated pop beats, an influx of girl singers who perform one or two songs before becoming forgotten by the end of the year and seriously, more songs about love and overcoming adversity than there are victims of Bill Cosby. So you decide to base your next album on those cliches in order to obtain radio play, at least you have a moderately decent discography to fall back on... unless you're Theory of a Deadman, then congratulations, now people could say you're only in it for the money and there'd be some truth to it.
Theory of a Deadman, aka Nickelback 2: Electric Boogaloo, never had any promise as a respectable rock band. Their debut album was decent, but after that was a long and painful decline. The band received almost, if not just as much, scrutiny as Nickelback, in that ToaD are more than happy to abide to the laws of mainstream music just to appease to record labels. It's funny how similar Nickelback and ToaD are, to the point that the directions both bands took in 2017 represent two different outcomes.
I'm willing to admit that Nickelback does have songs that I don't mind listening to, it was just that by 2011 their "I don't give a damn anymore" mentality came out full force, which is why I was genuinely surprised by their latest album, Feed the Machine. While it isn't a groundbreaking album, it shows that Chad Kroeger is listening and shows that he could gear out some decent content on his own front whenever he wants. The direction Nickelback took was one toward trying to regain lost respect, the ideal outcome.
ToaD continued their tradition of releasing an album every three years, and as some of you may be predicting, they chose to keep appealing to mainstream attributes. The bad outcome.
Wake Up Call feels like ToaD is channeling the energy of every alternative rock artist on this one, like even they had enough of the Nickelback references, but still refused to do their own thing. I'd love to analyze every track, but I'd prefer to focus on key tracks, because if I covered the album from top to bottom we'd be here all day.
*PCH: Actually, I might've overstated that ToaD departed from their Nickelbackian roots, because this song sounds rather similar to Nickelback's We're in this Together, similar tempo, similar vocal delivery. However you feel about this, it sure isn't its own thing.
*Rx: One of the top tracks on the album, complete with provocative lyrics like "I am so frickin' bored/Nothing to do today/I'll guess I'll sit around and medicate." Only thing interesting about the song is that it's based on the opioid epidemic.
*Wicked Game: Interesting, a cover of a Chris Isaak song. Their take on it isn't anything special. For some reason, I'm getting some X Ambassador vibes out of it. I listen to it, and I have the feeling that Tyler Connelly will do some falsetto at some point in the song.
In closing, ToaD aren't any better now than they were back then, but at the same time, it doesn't hit me as hard as other band that surrendered their decency to the clutches of mainstream music, because let's not kid ourselves here, that was ToaD's MO the entire time. Just going through the samples of each song on iTunes, nothing on the album compels me to listen any further. Any song I hear on the album, chances are I heard it on the radio already by an artist who's more of the same.
ToaD had three years to up their game, and they just put their hands up and hoped that their labels could save the day. For any band that goes into an album with the intent of being like whatever's currently hot on the radio, just know that they're obviously in it for the money.
(before I end it off, clearly they couldn't come up with their own album title either, they apparently turned to Maroon 5 for that.)