I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for veteran bands/artists that refuses to sit idle and only go out for the occasional greatest hits tour to secure their pension fonds. I love to hear new music by old bands and creative artists are so much more interesting to follow than they ones who are not. I never expect bands to come up with material that’s in par or better than in their hey-day and that’s why it feels so good that there are so many artists out there that still delivers the goods. Power Pop masters Cheap Trick has in the last fifteen years or so been releasing smash album after smash album something that speaks volumes of just how important it is for them to stay relevant. Sure, albums like In Color (1977), Heaven Tonight (1978) and Dream Police (1979) will always be favorites of mine but that’s as much because of nostalgic reasons because quality wise, the later Cheap Trick albums are all sky-high – which means that the expectations that follows are just as high.
Opener ”The Summer Looks Good On You” tells me everything’s alright in the Cheap Trick camp. It’s a classic Cheap Trick sounding power-pop number on a straight-forward note with extra added catchiness all over the place, verse and chorus. It’s an uplifting summer-song full of Beatlesesque harmonies, sticky guitar riffs and hooky melodies. Even within all its poppiness, it’s still a rocker and a damn good one too. I’d love to catch this one live. The summer vibe continues with ”Quit Waking Me Up”, a pop-rock groover on a steady beat and it stands so clear where bands like Jellyfish and Enuff Z’nuff has got most of their influences from. Again, late 60’s Beatles comes to mind but with Rick Nielsen’s raunchy guitars all over. What’s not love about that, huh?
”Another World” – the title-track minus ”in” – and the single is a slow pop-ballad, quite smooth and mellow but also with one of those classic Cheap Trick vocal-melodies, a solid beat and some chunky guitar-work. With some terrific acoustic guitars as a bottom and a brilliantly catchy chorus the song proves that Cheap Trick power-balladry isn’t at all anything like the power-balladry of the decade it was once invented. This is absolutely splendid. The title ”Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll” screams classic Cheap Trick and so does the actual song as well. This is uptempo and straight ahead power-pop-rock with a distinct groove and some infectious vocal-melodies all over. It holds the energetic punch of early Cheap Trick and a slight Rolling Stones vibe for good measure. The chorus etches itself to the brain from hello and I smell a hit here. This is spectacular indeed.
”The Party” is a rocking number that musically stays true to its title as it’s a real party-stomper we’re dealing with here. This is more of a Hard Rock meets Classic Rock track albeit with the big melodies that this band has made us all know and love. Slightly boogie-fused, the tune brings on a swagger that makes me want to crack open a cold one and dance around on my porch – if I had one. Awesome. ”Final Days” also strays away some from Cheap Trick’s classic power-pop with some bluesy outbursts, a rawer and heavier outlook and a kicking rhythm – and let’s not forget the fitting harmonica. It’s a bit slower in pace with more held-back verses. The chorus, however, throws in some pop-flavored hooks which brings on the catchiness. Great stuff.
The Beatles influenced melodies keeps coming in the slow, down-beat and stripped ballad ”So It Goes”. The tune goes even more late 60’s Beatles as the psychedelic vibes and a mellotron comes in. It’s a soulful and mellow number with some killer vocal-harmonies but for some reason I can’t make the song stick and it never really lifts. It’s ok, though. The album takes a more gritty turn when the edgy rocker ”Light Up The Fire” comes along. It’s a pretty heavy and in-your-face crowd-pleaser that holds a crunchy live-feel with some very direct vocal-melodies and a punchy chorus that’s very effective.
In a slower pace, ”Passing Through” is quite a heavy rock-tune where the band’s power-pop meets up with some more classic Hard Rock vibes. We all know what a big influence Cheap Trick is on a band like Enuff Z’Nuff but this song actually sounds more like Enuff Z’Nuff’s rougher pieces than a Cheap Trick tune. This is not a bad thing at all as it’s a damn fine tune with memorable hooks all over. ”Here’s Looking At You” is classic Cheap Trick all the way through. It’s uptempo and straight ahead with distinct CT-vocal melodies and another one of those amazingly catchy choruses. Fact is, the tune feels like a time-machine back to the band’s late 70’s. Very good.
”Another World (Reprise)” is a crunchy and faster take on the original version, rough and even slightly punky with all the classic Cheap Trick trademarks weaved in, power-pop meets garage-rock if you will. I like the original better but it’s a fun move. Good. ”I’ll See You Again” is a deep, dark and quite calming ballad that dwells in a dreamy and spacey soundscape. It’s a cozy thing with a hypnotic lead vocal arrangement and some floating keyboards on top. Great. Steve Jones of Sex Pistols comes in and guests on guitar on the cover of John Lennon’s ”Gimme Some Truth”. It’s a muscular and ballsy rock-belter with some raunchy guitars and a beefy beat. I dig the original and Cheap Trick really does the song justice here. A damn good cover indeed.
To me, Cheap Trick started to deliver the goods properly again back in 2006 and the Rockford album and since then the high-quality records has been delivered with very little to complain about. I still miss drummer Bun E Carlos because, well Bun will always be Bun but that being said, for the third album in a row Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s drumming son, really fills Carlos’ shoes with all the glory – the guy’s clearly perfect for Cheap Trick. Also since 2006, the Cheap Trick sound is still intact – these guys ARE power-pop and they sound like no one else. This is Cheap Trick’s 20th record and the guys shows no signs of giving in on the song-quality. If you’re a fan then this album should be a no-brainer to get a holds of because it’s yet another killer Cheap Trick effort. Thumbs up.