Maybe Kurt Cobain would be singing songs about strippers and blowjobs by now. That, anyway, is the leap Nickelback made between depressive second album The State and their sixth, the partying hard Dark Horse, a stark contrast made by this trio of vinyl reissues. The lurch in subject matter may confirm that Nickelback are inauthentic. Or it could just mean Chad Kroeger the millionaire rock star has more fun than Chad the small-town delinquent.
That early self, pining for his largely absent, imposing dad, was buried deep in the lyrics of The State (5⁄10) in 2000. The panic attack and desire to fit in during opener Breathe are typical, at a time when Nickelback didn’t seem so different in intent to their current bête noire Slipknot. What lets it down is the undistinguished post-grunge sound.
By 2008’s Dark Horse (6⁄10), life is a good deal grander. Sex beats love all the way, with identikit ballads pulped by highly entertaining booze-a-thon Burn It To The Ground. Kroeger’s certainly being authentic here.
2011’s Here And Now (5⁄10) finds the band nervily pointing the finger at fame-corrupted fakes on Kiss It Goodbye. Though heavier than they’re given credit for, it’s slickly unimaginative.