Weathered, by Creed
Suggested by Dan Jenkins
I remember hearing Nickelback for the first time.
The song was their breakout hit, How You Remind Me. I really liked it. Of course, this was before I realised that all their other songs (bar one) sound exactly like How You Remind Me, and the gravity of this miasma of sound sucked all the joy out of the air and crushed it into a walnut-sized kernel of spite.
The one song of theirs that sounds different? Rock Star. I liked that one too. Truth is, I still do.
Sometime over the last decade, Nickleback fell far from grace, so much so that they are now a pure punchline, an Internet meme, a creative void, a shortcut for banality. I don’t really know why. They’re multi-platinum artists, millionaires many times over, touring and releasing music to this day, but still they are lambasted by huge swathes of the music-buying public for no real reason.
It appears that Creed are in a similar predicament. With four albums over a twenty-five year stop-start career, they’ve had multi-platinum releases and chart-topping successes… yet they are not particularly liked. According to some, they are disliked because of their “overwrought power-balladry and Christian-infused testosterone.”
Huh. Seems fair.
Weathered, their third album, is my first brush with the band. They sit on that mid-Nineties post-Grunge sofa that embraces the flabby fuzz of Seattle and fuses it with a little more rock sensibility. On the face of it, this is fine, as bands such as Alice in Chains can safely attest, but in practice I think it’s all rather one-note and boring. Sadly for Creed, I’d tar Weathered with a similar brush.
For a start, there are too many ballads on this album. Who’s Got My Back?, One Last Breath, My Sacrifice, the title track Weathered, Lullaby… even the slightly-rocking Stand Here With Me. The album only has so much real estate, and allocating six out of eleven of the available plots to the aural equivalent of a bungalow isn’t the best use of space or talent. This indulgence is almost Aerosmith-level stuff, and Creed are not Aerosmith.
When the band decides to rock out, there’s more than a soupcon of Pearl Jam in the rice pudding. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m sure Pearl Jam have done enough original material that there’s no need for Pearl Jam fanfic. Maybe I underestimate the world’s overbearing desire for the post-Grunge sound, but I doubt it.
For every pleasant aspect of this album, there’s a weighty downside that drags the whole effort back into the mire. Yes, Scott Stapp’s vocals are assured, but no, the songs he’s singing are so lacking in self awareness or humour that they may as well be sermons. Yes, the swirling guitars and hypnotic vocals of Bullets are dynamic, but no, the saccharine sentiment to Lullaby literally gave my Type 2 Diabetes. Even my standout gives me pause; Who’s Got My Back is almost as epic as it sets out to be, but not quite, and the shoehorning of a Cherokee prayer is cultural appropriation at its most insidious.
Weathered gets a mediocre 5/10. It’s a sound captured by better bands with more grace and self-deprecation than Creed. I doubt I’ll lose any sleep should our paths never cross again.