Review Summary: Remodeling.No Fixed Address
is, to be frank, a bit of a difficult album to swallow. On the one hand, it is an album that is trying to evolve from the three catastrophes that came before it. Going into this project, Nickelback directly expressed their desire to experiment, and to their credit, they definitely did so. On the other hand, that experimentation partially falls flat on its face and rapidly grows stale and annoying. Indeed, while this album has some of Nickelback’s best material and loads of potential for more improvement, it is also bursting with some of their worst material.
In the spirit of the new year, let’s begin with the positives. Opener “Million Miles An Hour” is the perfect opener for a rock album. The main riff is dynamic, and quickly snakes its distorted and treble-laced way across the fretboard. The chorus is massive, the rhythm section propels the movement of the song, and Chad’s vocals are vicious. Lyrics describing a drug-trip are quite fitting as well. “Million Miles An Hour” also introduces one of the new elements for Nickelback; there’s an electronic undertone, with some light synth work running through parts of the track, and serving to spice it up. In general, I would say that the band’s newfound penchant for electronica makes the album more exciting, especially the weaker parts. I can always appreciate good ear candy, and the synth bits sound quite pleasing, especially on headphones. Speaking of making an album exciting, songs like “The Hammer’s Coming Down” and “Edge of a Revolution” further intensify Nickelback’s penchant for stadium-shaking arena rock, both complete with sing-along choruses and down-tuned guitars. “Get Em’ Up” and “Sister Sin” drop the synths and instead opt to blend in country and blues influences, with “Get Em’ Up” sitting somewhere between a square dance banger and an alt-metal rager. Throughout these tracks, and the album in general, crystal-clear production work manages to clearly and precisely deliver every instrument and every note.
Additionally, No Fixed Address implements some new lyrical themes, while (mostly) wiping out those that really shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Gone are rambunctious, frat-boy odes to alcohol and sex (save “Got Me Runnin’ Round” and “She Keeps Me Up”, though even those are tamer than comparable tracks from the previous three albums), replaced here by everything from political/social activism, to the aforementioned drug-trips, to bank robberies, to addiction. These lyrics made this album much more interesting, as Nickelback have always had a penchant for strong story-telling, when they actually give a damn enough to do so.
Unfortunately, there’s still plenty of chinks in the armor here. Every single ballad on this album is absolutely forgettable, and while they could be worse, they could clearly be better. “She Keeps Me Up” is a disastrous attempt at aping Maroon 5 funk-rock and “Got Me Runnin’ Round” is beyond misguided. Flo Rida should not be guesting on a Nickelback album, and the sad attempt at rock-flavored hip-hop present on “Got Me Runnin Round” is awkward on the best days, soul-crushing on the worst.
No Fixed Address
is an admirable effort by a band to reclaim some of their former glory and talent, while evolving beyond the milquetoast post-grunge it had become known for. While there’s plenty of quality to be found here, attempts at earning radio-play on adult contemporary and pop stations hold this project back. As an EP, featuring the six best songs here, this would’ve been incredibly strong, and a credible, welcome come-back album from the dark days. As an album, this is good, but still houses some old ghosts that really needed to be dealt with.