Review Summary: Great album tracks, so-so singles.
There's not a lot to love about Nickelback. But there really isn't a lot to hate about Nickelback either. They're not innovative, at least not outside of the post-grunge genre. Their songs are similar once you get down to it. Their lyrical themes are questionable. Their singer either makes or breaks the band's likeability.
All of these flaws are still present on their 2005 album, All the Right Reasons. Yet this also just so happens to be an album that at least plays to their instrumental strengths. Double bass drums kick off the opener, "Follow You Home," plus there's a nice bit of rumbling bass guitar on "Fight for All the Wrong Reasons." And "Next Contestant" has a weird guitar effect in the beginning that demands your attention. "Side of a Bullet" kind of cheats by overdubbing a guitar solo from Dimebag Darrell, whom both the track and album are dedicated to, yet the rest of the chugging guitars are some of the finest riffs that the band has ever played. But that's about it.
The rest of the record is exactly what you would expect from a hard rock/post-grunge band like Nickelback. And considering that most of those aforementioned songs weren't singles, then it's obvious that it's the singles that bring down the album. Although "Far Away" is a decent song (albeit with cheesy lyrics), "Photograph," "Animals," and especially "Rockstar" should not ever be played more than once. "Animals" is completely ruined by its overtly sexual messages, and "Photograph" by its stupid attempt at nostalgia and sentiment. Somewhere out there, Kim is cringing at those lyrics written by her former boyfriend (unless that kiss was a dare, which is probably more likely). Finally, "Rockstar" is 100% satirical for sure, but even so, it only sounds good once.
"Savin' Me" and "If Everyone Cared" are two more tracks that sound good at first, only to sound plain mediocre after repeated listens. "Savin' Me" starts off with some acoustic picking, whereas "If Everyone Cared" begins with subtle piano. That doesn't hide the fact that the latter song attempts to be an anthem, though. And "Savin' Me," despite being a decent song, could use a little bit more flair.
There's no denying that All the Right Reasons is not perfect. It sounds too much like a compilation of hits, which are all either hard rockers or ballads. There's no in-between, and that makes this album incredibly hit-and-miss, very spotty, and uneven. Still, "Next Contestant" and "Side of a Bullet" manage to be great rockers that avoid cliche sing-a-long choruses. "Far Away" is far and away the best of the slower songs, mostly because of the drum work. And "Rockstar" still looks incredibly, intentionally funny on paper, just not so much as an annoying country-tinged ear-worm.
When it comes to Nickelback, it's simply a matter of being able to tell between their good songs and their bad songs. And unfortunately, it's mostly the singles that are of lesser quality. To judge the whole album as utterly terrible, on the other hand, is an action that should probably be reconsidered.
"Next Contestant" (BEST TRACK)
"Side of a Bullet"
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars