It's never easy following up a multi-platinum success, yet with The Long Road
, Canada's Nickelback seem sure to match the sales of the many-million-selling Silver Side Up
. The formula remains pretty much the same. Nothing fancy, just radio-friendly grunge-rock lending an appropriately dramatic backing to the powerful and increasingly confident voice of Chad Kroeger, the undoubted star of this show. Aside from the fast and punchy opener "Flat on the Floor", the tough, staccato "Because of You" and the Oasis
-recalling "Figured You Out", the band deal exclusively in soft-rock anthems (soft, that is, by 2003's pulverising standards), the strong vocal melodies encouraging stadium sing-alongs. Indeed, the closing "See You at the Show" seems deliberately designed for crowd interaction.
The only real change is in Kroeger's lyrical concerns. Where 2000's The State saw him suffering the frustrations and claustrophobic complexities of small town life, now he's tortured by a heavy touring schedule (the long road of the title, one presumes) that promotes destructive drug abuse and strains his attempted relationships to breaking point. That said, you can't help feeling the ruthlessly analytical Kroeger would turn a visit to the supermarket into a riot of hatred and self-recrimination. For fans of Silver Side Up, Nickelback have delivered the goods once more. --Dominic Wills