48 years and 20 records later, Cheap Trick is still going. Enduring that long without fading into obscurity is a remarkable feat, and throughout their nearly half a century together Rockford’s own have remained largely consistent, easily identifiable and greatly influential. Their latest release In Another World reflects this continuing freshness, a 13-track collection of classic rock tunes that come through ageless while being clearly and appropriately vintage all the while. “The Summer Looks Good On You”, as one such example gives off major Dream Police vibes, while “Quit Waking Me Up” digs back even further in time; sounding in particular like The Beatles circa Rubber Soul and Revolver.
“Another World” scales things back a bit- not quite to the soft balladry of “The Flame” but to a proper degree against the first two tracks on the album. Robin Zander’s vocals are remarkably strong even at 68 years old, casually alternating between a Lennon-esque croon on slower tunes and a Jagger-y belt on rockers like “Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll.” “The Party” is a well-preserved relic of the late ‘70s, reminiscent in ways of Aerosmith’s Draw The Line but minus its druggy stumble. “Final Days” runs off of an all-too-familiar slow blues shuffle, a treat to the ears of older listeners, but to generations after a piece of sonic boilerplate that could be done without. Likewise, the acoustic number “So It Goes” is a masterclass in McCartneyism, but the sound of said track isn’t as blatantly dated to the point of potentially turning younger listeners off.
“Light Up The Fire” jets back to the One By One flavour of the early ‘80s, a straight shot of classic Cheap Trick that leads into the kick-back mellowness of “Passing Through”, then into the quintessential Rick Nielsen chords and power choruses of “Here’s Looking At You”. From there, the boys circle back and reprise “Another World” with three times the punch, then knock it back down to 0.5 or so with “I’ll See You Again.” Closing the album is a cover of Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth”, a clear, final nod to (one of) their influences that shine through clearly alongside the sound they forged from them.
Cheap Trick’s 20th is essentially what you would expect, and for the most part, what the average Cheap Trick fan would want at this stage of the game. At times, the record sounds a bit unnecessarily dated, but for the most part they sound like a band that’s still got it and has managed to preserve the magic that makes them; keeping their sound in great condition as a satisfying flashback to the veterans and a fun new dose to the newcomers. Who knows how many more records Cheap Trick have left in them, but if they still sound this good, let’s hope they keep it up.