Nickelback have achieved a strange level of success – you either love them or hate them, as fans have been seeing in recent reviews of the band’s new album Here And Now. I tend to think Nickelback are getting better with age – they’re not afraid to rock hard, but they’re also willing to grow with tracks such as the smooth and catchy pop track When We Stand Together show. Unlike past albums, Here and Now shows the most growth and musical switches – and that makes for a really fresh and exciting album.
The opening track This Means War is the hardest on the album, sounding much like the band’s earlier work, while the first rock radio single Bottoms Up is a typical celebratory drinking rock track of late. After that, the album takes some sharp turns as the Canadian rockers test out new sounds, such as the funk-metal of Gotta Get Me Some, the keyboard pop of Lullaby and the catchy balladry of Trying Not To Love You (which will be a huge hit when released as a single).
Throughout all of the twists and changes on Here and Now, the obvious Nickelback sound remains because they’ve been growing as artists since the first album and developments like melody and harmony are not new – they have been in the works since The Long Road, but are just more prominent on Dark Horse and more noticeably on Here And Now.
While the album doesn’t have the giant production of Mutt Lange, who had his fingers all over Dark Horse, this album stretches further than Lange can go. Although a brilliant producer for his stlye, Lange’s range is really limited – listen to Lange produced Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain and Nickelback back-to-back and you’ll hear what I mean. With Here And Now, Nickelback took out the best parts of Lange and added it to their past experiences when they self-produced this album with Brian Howes and Joey Moi.
Take it or leave it, Nickelback are Canada’s top rock act and with hits like When We Stand Together, it is deservedly so. Cheers to a band willing to grow and make changes to a sound that has influenced hundreds of bands on the market today. This is far and away, the best Canadian album of 2011.