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Nickelback: Dark Horse

Nickelback: Dark Horse

Modern Melodic Hard Rock
Rating: 3.0/5.0

No, I haven't lost my mind. No, I haven't been beguiled by the corporate American music machine into humiliating subservience. Yes, I am actually reviewing the latest Nickelback album 'Dark Horse.' Be patient. I just wanted to know what the fuss was all about. Why are these guys so popular? Don't worry: I'll be out of the gutter and firmly on the sidewalk by the end of this review.

So what does make Nickelback so popular? Their music is basically post-grunge hard rock with some power pop sensibility. Generally, Chad Kroeger and company can write coherent lyrics and compose lively songs. Their live shows are huge, filled terrific stage presence and pyrotechnics. Add this all up and lubricate with the oils corporate American music marketing savvy and you have a major success. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of originality here. What's that old joke: gather 100 monkeys in a room, give them typewriters, and sooner or later, they'll deliver the complete works of Shakespeare. For the depth of Nickelback's creativity: two monkeys and 30 days. This has been done before. I just seems to sound better because its popular. Be careful or you'll be in the gutter of musical mediocrity before long.

Don't get me wrong here, there is some fun stuff on 'Dark Horse' having a big beat, catchy melodies and some massive choruses. 'Burn It To The Ground' and 'This Afternoon' are basic toe-tapping beer swilling party songs. Even in their more serious moments as on 'I'd Come For You' and 'Today Was Your Last Day,' you may even feel that music can touch your spirit. But here in lies the problem: Kroeger and Nickelback are so severely conflicted in substance, you don't know where they're going. In a song, they're your best keg-hugging dudes. On another, they're misogynists condemning women for teasing and toying with their libido for personal gain 'Something In Your Mouth' and 'SEX. . On other songs, they spasm into contradiction becoming their own hypocrites when the preach dedication in a relationship (I'd Come Back For You), saving a friend from substance abuse (Just To Get High), or pursuing a meaningful life (Today Was Your Last Day). If you or I were this schizophrenic we would be in the nearest asylum wearing gray pajamas.

Essentially, Nickelback is like cocaine: you snort enough and feel so good, you're numbed into mindless addiction. I see two choices here. One, ignore them, hope they go away, and consider yourself lucky for not being suckered. Or, second, let Nickelback become your secret guilty pleasure: give 'Dark Horse' that second spin, relax and become comfortably numb. Hey, can somebody play 'Burn It To The Ground' one more time?
- Craig Hartranft

In Short

What's that old joke: gather 100 monkeys in a room, give them typewriters, and sooner or later, they'll deliver the complete works of Shakespeare. For the depth of Nickelback's creativity: two monkeys and 30 days. This has been done before. I just seems to sound better because its popular. Be careful or you'll be in the gutter of musical mediocrity before long: happy and comfortably numb.

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