Formed in 2004, Saving Abel is a hard rock band which combines crunchy riffs with a slight Southern drawl. Supposedly their self-titled debut album was a big hit in the US, but we didn’t even get a sniff of it here in ol’ Blighty. ‘Miss America’ – their 2010 sophomore release – is one of those albums which sounded like it may be enjoyable to begin with, since it’s opening number is delivered with enough gusto to grab the attention and is co-produced by Marti Fredriksen (who may be familiar to some of you as being the man who provided Jason Lee’s vocals in the classic Cameron Crowe movie ‘Almost Famous’, among other things), but as it turns out, the presence of Fredriksen just gave me false hope.
That opening number – ‘Tap Out’ – combines slightly fuzzy hard rock guitars with a decent punch delivered by Blake Dixon’s drum kit. Vocalist Jared Weeks has a voice which has a presence in a 90s style (I’d hoped that with Fredriksen on board that there may be more of a classic rock feel, but you can’t have it all); as far as openers go, Saving Abel push all the right buttons here. However, by a couple of minutes into the album’s second track – ‘Stupid Girl (Only In Hollywood)’ – I’m feeling rather let down, as any promise the track may have had gets watered down into something which sounds like latter-day Nickelback. Released as a single, this plods a down well-worn path that holds no great interest. ‘Contagious’ sounds like it could push the album in a heavier direction, but after about thirty seconds of hard riffing, the band opts for a Nickleback-esque approach again and delivers something so predictable. There’s a half decent guitar lead break, but nothing else of any worth.
The acoustic touches and Southern twang permeating the verses of both the title cut and the second single ‘The Sex Is Good’ offer a welcome lighter musical standpoint – there’s often enjoyment to be had from multiple acoustic guitars – but bad song writing means I won’t be spending too much time listening… (I mean, ‘The Sex Is Good’? Oh dear lads…did you get song writing lessons from that Kroeger when you supported Nickelback in 2009?). The semi-acoustic ‘Angel Without Wings’ with its very 90s rock edge and hard drum sound provides some enjoyment, but you’ll find similar stuff done better elsewhere, particularly if you’re a Creed or Alter Bridge fan. Likewise, ‘Hell of a Ride’ shows glimspses of something half listenable with decent use of slide guitars, but a heavy handed leaning towards 90s rock masks the decent bluest elements, which is a great shame.
This second album features a slightly heavier approach in places than the band’s self-titled debut, but generally, there are no surprises. The safe brand of alt-rock displayed throughout Saving Abel’s second disc will make them a few doubloons – but for me, the album sounds like a three song CD single, stuck on repeat until it reaches album length. In all truth, Saving Abel aren’t that interesting a band. In addition to their limited musical palette wearing thin very quickly, their obvious Chad Kroeger influences are extremely off-putting. Is there any point in Nickleback Mk 2? Still, I suppose they make Josey Scott’s band Saliva sound like a ground-breaking phenomenon.
See the video for ‘Stupid Girl (Only In Hollywood)’ here.