Cheap Trick has never pretended to be a rock band for eggheads. Seminal ’70s tunes such as “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me” established them as the Beatles of bubblegum rock—a talented band with a catchy way of saying very little. The group’s latest album continues the Cheap Trick tradition of guitar-driven power pop but is bereft, for the most part, of those infectious hooks that once made the band so appealing.
Principal songwriter Rick Nielsen has either lost his golden-goose knack for composing silly, captivating melodies (just listen to any track off 1978’s Heaven Tonight) or he’s desperately trying to nudge his group into the ’90s with a more metallic sound. The result is a blend of generic hard rock and ballads that lump Cheap Trick into the homogeneous glob of so-so pop bands. The problem is that they’re better than that, and they know it. (Warner Bros.)