So here we are. That all important third listen. The one I do from start to finish before writing word one about an album. This is my number one rule when it comes to reviews, as many of you know. I can’t even tell you how many albums I hated on the initial spin before falling in love with them in Round Three, so it is most definitely the Golden Rule. You’re probably saying, “Where the fuck we goin’ with this, Maestro?” and I don’t blame you. In this case the album in question is the brand new NICKELBACK disc Feed the Machine, out now on Republic Records.
It’s no secret they are one of my favorite bands for almost twenty years now. In my 2014 review of No Fixed Address I said, “They have never failed to inspire me, make me laugh, cry, and hoist many a shot and beer with my crew back in New York. I really don’t give a shit what your stupid and infantile reasons may be for hating them; I will love them till they give me a reason not to.” and I still stand by that statement. While the previous album was the second triple in a row after back-to-back home runs (All the Right Reasons, Dark Horse) it produced some great tracks, most notably “Get ‘Em Up” one that still pops into my head all the time at random.
“Maestro, are you EVER gonna get to THIS album?!?” Eddie…relax, we’ve arrived at that stop. Obviously leadoff track and first single “Feed the Machine” is heavier than much of the band’s last outing, so much so that everyone was wetting themselves over it. And it is 100% a great song with some chunky-ass riffs, no question. But I was definitely more impressed with “Coin For the Ferryman” a song about some crazy, paranoid tweakers with guitar riffs and a chorus that remind me of the NICKELBACK of 2005-2008. Absolutely love it, and they should play it live on tour this summer for sure.
From the “Songs For the Ladies” file we are treated to “Song On Fire” and that is by no means a slag. Chad Kroeger knows how to write songs that speak to the fairer sex, and this one is very well-done, especially the lyrics. “Must Be Nice” manages to be funky, dirty, sexy, and heavy all at once. What you’re hearing is the sound of a band who doesn’t give a shit what the detractors think, because they can just play kickass rock songs like this all day long. It also sounds like they were having fun on this one, even though the lyrics are quite biting. I wasn’t sure what to make of “After the Rain” at first, but it’s a pretty little ditty with a good melody.
Oh, and on the heavy front “For the River” just might be the Hercules on this record. Again, the riffs combined with Kroeger’s gruff vocals make this one a winner without a doubt. “Home” is another one that sounds like it could have been on the ‘05 or ‘08 record, and “The Betrayal – Act III” is the Thor to “For the River”s Hercules. This one is actually really fucking good, and I think longtime fans will go batshit to it. “Silent Majority” was one of my instant favorites because it’s got a great melody, and a soaring chorus that flies with the eagles.
Another thing NICKELBACK excels at is writing those “Back in the day memories” type songs, and “Every Time We’re Together” is no exception. One listen to the words and you just might wanna reach for your phone and call your best friend. I know I wanted to. I wanted to tell all my boys back home that I love them and that we’ll always be The Crew. And that’s what this band does to me. They always make me dial in to my human emotions, whether those are good or bad. “The Betrayal – Act I” closes the record as an acoustic instrumental which is totally out of character but still pretty cool, no?
What’s funny is that on my first listen to Feed the Machine I was convinced there would be no songs I’d want to molest my REPEAT button to. Well, I was wrong. There are plenty. And yes, this album IS a step up from the last one, despite my arguing with several colleagues to the contrary. I was all prepared to use my Dad line of, “I’m not mad, I’m just…disappointed.” in my review of the record, but that all-important third spin completely turned me around. And I certainly can’t wait to see them live on August 4 here in Philly!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Coin For the Ferryman”, “For the River”, “Silent Majority”, “Must Be Nice”, “Song On Fire”, “Every Time We’re Together”