Despite the country’s reputation for being polite, friendly, and generally likeable, Canada has managed to produce musical acts that attract commercial success and public derision in roughly equal measure. We’re looking at you Bieber and Nickelback. While Justin Bieber’s behaviour has arguably earned the ire he receives, Nickelback has managed to establish themselves as the major rock band it’s cool to hate simply with their regular releases and touring. While not yet of the commercial status of Nickelback, rock quartet Theory of a Deadman seems set to become the next Canadian export to succeed in spite of a lukewarm critical reception.
Wake Up Call is Theory of a Deadman’s sixth studio album, but where the band’s previous releases were angled at hard-rock audiences their latest effort is a thoroughly pop-rock record. This is a substantial gambit for the group who has built a solid – if inexplicable to the critics – fan base with the sound of their first five records and a busy touring schedule. Despite a nice acoustic guitar riff, the seemingly electronic drumbeat and half-rapped vocal delivery of lead single Rx are likely to turn off a few established fans, and that’s before the tracks overlong nature becomes evident.
The titular Wake Up Call is a painfully middling affair, and Time Machine lives up to its name by dragging three minutes out into an eternity. G.O.A.T. features a chorus that demands energy and a sense of jubilation – think Queen’s We Are the Champions – that is never delivered, while the song’s bridge would be humorous if it weren’t earnest. Glimpses of what, presumably, led to Theory of a Deadman’s popularity can be seen in the somewhat catchy Glass Jaw, and it should be noted that the squalling guitars work well, and the reggae vibes of Po Mouth generate some interest.
A cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game concludes the album, with the use of strings and an overall dark mood making for an interesting interpretation of the song, although the bland and over processed vocals pale in comparison to the original. With Wake Up Call offering little to captivate the listener, it is difficult to image what appeal Theory of a Deadman use to draw their fans in.