Nickelback has long been a case study in lyrical whiplash. One moment, this band of veteran Canadian rockers led by Chad Kroeger is hedonistically embracing tired rock rebellion tropes. The next they’re passionately pounding out ’80s-inspired power ballads about standing tall and keeping the faith. With the exception of the band’s recent migration from longtime label home Roadrunner to Republic, not much has changed with regard to that vexing thematic paradox on Nickelback’s eighth studio effort, No Fixed Address.
“What Are You Waiting For?” sports an inspiring carpe diem message as it encourages the timid to take risks in pursuit of their dreams (“You gotta go and reach for the top/Believe in every dream that you got/You’re only living once, so tell me/What are you, what are you waiting for?”). “Make Me Believe Again” pleads for a renewed sense of purpose (“Make me believe again/In some kind of faith/Help me to see again/Before it’s too late”). Though Chad Kroeger never uses the word forgiveness, it seems he’s after some kind of spiritual cleansing when he sings, “If you could take the dirt/And wash it all away/ … If you could lead the way/ … Make me believe again.” Meanwhile, “The Hammer’s Coming Down” finds a desperate couple clinging to hope against the backdrop of an impending apocalyptic storm (“If there is one thing I can promise you/We’ll see the light again/This is the calm before the coming storm”). Perseverance permeates the song’s closing message: “Holding on/We’ll make it till the dawn/It’ll be here before long/If we can find the light/We can make our way back home.”
“Edge of a Revolution” protests greed and governmental oppression/meddling, shouting, “Yeah, we’re standing on the edge of a revolution/ … No, we won’t give up, we won’t go away/’Cause we’re not about to live in this mass delusion.” “Sister Sin” involves a woman telling an alcoholic that she’s had enough of his drinking (“She said, ‘In case you hadn’t noticed that/Played second fiddle to the bottle for a little too long/And I ain’t about to anymore”). Later we hear an anguished, almost prayer-like confessional as this drunk confesses, “Fall from grace, kingdom come/Lying face down in the mud/Please don’t hate, look, don’t judge/For I know not just what I’ve done.”
“Take one of those and two of these,” Kroeger instructs in the opening line of “Million Miles an Hour.” “Then watch the walls begin to breathe/ … I can taste the color of the lights/Wings are growing out of me/ … The ceiling has us mesmerized/It feels like we could never die/ … As we lift off into the sky/Invincible and so alive/Ten feet tall and f—ing bullet proof.” If that is indeed an ode to hard-core drug abuse, the song later reinforces the idea with, “I like this everlasting pill/’Cause time itself is standing still/ … Turn off your phone so no one calls/’Cause you and I are tripping balls.”
The title of “She Keeps Me Up” serves as a dirty double entendre for this raunchy sex song in which we hear lyrics such as, “I love it when she says, ‘What’s wrong with right here on the counter?'” “Satellite” suggests, “Let’s lock the door behind us/ … Dance around this bedroom/Like we’ve only got tonight/Not about to let you go/Until the morning light.” Sex is so good on “Got Me Runnin’ Round” that it prompts spontaneous promises of familial interest (“D–mit, I knew the second that you came up/From underneath the covers/Said, ‘I wanna meet your mother, your daddy, your sister and your brother'”). Later, as the song’s narrator gets drunk, he approves of his lover’s fling with another woman (“As soon as I looked over/There’s no way to sugarcoat it/You were busy motorboatin’ on that blonde girl/ … Ain’t nothin’ wrong, girl/Looks like we got another come-along girl/If you ain’t afraid to try it”).
For all the angst about alcoholism on “Sister Sin,” it’s ultimately unclear whether the song’s alcohol-sodden narrator is actually willing to part with his beloved bottle. “Get ‘Em Up” is an intentionally ridiculous song about two guys planning a bank robbery (“This is a robbery, now get down on the floor/We’re here for all the s— that you don’t need no more”) that goes awry when they realize, “It was Sunday and the g–d–n bank was closed.” (At least they eventually get arrested.) Throughout the album, about a dozen profanities turn up, including f-words, s-words, “g–d–m,” “d–n” and “h—.”
The constant movement between this album’s genuinely positive moments and its recklessly retrograde ones makes No Fixed Address an unintentionally apt title. Nickelback encourages us to chase our dreams, fight our fears and carry on through the storms of life. And then we’re suddenly hearing about one woman who wants to have sex on the counter and another who’s so carnally voracious she launches into a spontaneous make-out session with another woman—while her admiring boyfriend stands back and applauds. Reach a bit deeper into the musical mailbox for some obscenities as well as a blithe shout-out to the rapturous joys of psychedelic drugs, and you’ll find that you’ve opened up yet another classic Nickelback content conundrum.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.