By Adam Pain
Cheap Trick Review – Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello.
It’s been quite some time since I even thought about listening to Cheap Trick, despite their accessible, unrelenting rock sound peppering growing up at random points. For me, Cheap Trick have always been a little like ZZ-Top, insomuch as I forget how good they are until I find myself air drumming along to a tune in a movie, or stumbling across one of their belters on a rock-centric DAB station, whilst running the hoover around.
This band of rock veterans from Illinois deserve to pop into my thought more often – and the new album should most certainly get a decent look in on this summer’s playlist. They are undeniably a fun band to listen to. That sounds dreadfully glib, but it’s the only word I can find to describe the way the music makes me feel. Take the first two tracks from the new album – the stomping Heart on the Line and the catchy radio rock of No Direction Home – I found myself grinning at the sheer audacity of the songs, production and performance. The sonic fingerprint of the classic Cheap Trick records of the 1970s is still there, but there’s something more worldly and confident about this new record that reminds me of the latest work released by Jeff Lynne’s ELO – this is a band at ease with their craft, and the sound like they’re having a great deal of fun doing it.
There is still the Beatles influence in the vocal harmonies running through the album, although they’re no less capable of the sort of direct hooks I associate with rock acts like Mötley Crüe, as on the relentlessly catchy stomp-a-long, Long Time No See You.
Blood Red Lips is another highlight, opening with a vibe and sound that immediately takes me back to the Glam rock pop of the 70s, complete with claps and stomping shuffle rhythm.
It didn’t all grab me. The Sun Never Sets feels a little like filler to me, and doesn’t really bring much to the table that the album hadn’t already delivered in spades. It’s still accomplished, slick and accessible – and the harmonies in the chorus still made the hairs on the back of my neck bristle first time around – but overall it doesn’t quite grab me in the way some of the other material does. But by and large, this is an impressively consistent rock record that combines the classic ingredients of Cheap Trick with some neat modern production flourishes.
Thankfully the band haven’t tried to reinvent themselves and make concessionary nods to rock’s current luminaries. They really don’t need to. The ingredients still work and they make a racket which kept me glued between the stereo image for the full duration of all eleven tracks. Its testament to the band that the volume crept up as I listened – and I ended up devouring the first half of the album again the minute I reached the end.
This is a rock album like they used to made them – rendered with the fidelity of the 21st century. Cheap Trick, like AC/DC with the thoroughly loveable Black Ice before them, have made a rock record that reminds me how good rock music can still be. If, like me, you forget to keep tabs on Cheap Trick, I thoroughly recommend you paying this record a visit. If nothing else, it will be fun. That is a rare and valuable commodity indeed.