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The Latest

Cheap Trick

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Album Review

If calling their fifteenth studio album The Latest doesn't exactly suggest enthusiasm on the part of Cheap Trick, keep in mind that the band has never shown much enthusiasm for album titles anyway, titling two albums after their band and one after their hometown of Rockford, IL. The Latest follows 2006's Rockford by three years and does indeed offer the latest spin on the band's classic power pop, flowing naturally from that quite excellent back-to-basics set, offering another collection of 13 guitar-heavy pop tunes. After the brief, ominous opener "Sleep Forever," a misleading slice of spacy, hazy, mood rock fades away, Cheap Trick tear into the overlooked Slade gem "When the Lights Are Out," suggesting that The Latest will be a high-octane rock-fest, but apart from a handful of other moments — including the raging "Sick Man of Europe" and the "Slow Down" revamp "California Girl" — a lot of the record consists of thick Beatlesque psychedelia, an appealing shift in tactics that makes this something a little bit different than yet another Cheap Trick record. That said, reinvention isn't the order of the day, staying true to the spirit of their classic '70s trilogy is, and the band acquits themselves admirably, turning out a tight, tuneful collection of proudly unfashionable power pop. And if the best song here is a cover of Slade's "When the Lights Are Out," well, it could be argued that the Move's "California Man" was the best song on Heaven Tonight, too.

Biography

Formed: 1975 in Rockford, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Combining a love for British guitar pop songcraft with crunching power chords and a flair for the absurd, Cheap Trick provided the necessary links between '60s pop, heavy metal, and punk. Led by guitarist Rick Nielsen, the band's early albums were filled with highly melodic, well-written songs that drew equally from the crafted pop of the Beatles, the sonic assault of the Who, and the tongue-in-cheek musical eclecticism and humor of the Move. Their sound provided a blueprint for both power pop and...
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