Almost a decent record

Nickelback’s return-to-basics approach on album number nine following their somewhat out-of-the-box 2014 release No Fixed Address perfectly epitomises the real problem so many have with this band.

Endowed with a depth of musical and song writing talent, Nickelback exist within a safe, accessible platinum-shifting comfort zone of banality that ensures a wealth of hit records so enamoured of band leader Chad Kroeger while clearly being capable of true artistic creativity and lyrical clout. Feed the Machine‘s title track, for example, takes a muted stab at some kind of social comment and the rest of the songs are mostly free of Kroeger’s usual thinly veiled vulgarity but they stop short of saying too much.

Both opening tracks plus ‘Must be Nice’ and ‘The Betrayal (Act III)’ bristle with heavy riffing and bursts of savage lead guitar, making them easily the gutsiest songs Nickelback have laid down in possibly fifteen years, but again that’s as close as they come. The rest of Feed the Machine is pretty much Nickelback by numbers, the mawkish semi-ballads and hackneyed radio rock we’ve come to expect, as if four fairly decent rockers out of a total of eleven is more than enough. This, in fact, is the Canadian quartet’s real crime: they have a vast potential to make records that are truly great, yet they prefer the pedestrian comfort of familiarity.

In the end, there’s only two types of people who listen to Nickelback albums in their entirety – fans who continue to love them, and critics who continue to be disappointed. Feed the Machine maintains the balance.

1. Feed the Machine
2. Coin for the Ferryman
3. Song on Fire
4. Must be Nice
5. After the Rain
6. For the River
7. Home
8. The Betrayal (Act III)
9. Silent Majority
10. Every Time We’re Together
11. The Betrayal (Act I)