In Another World
BMG (CD, LP)
By John M. Borack
On their first album in nearly four years, the classic rock machine known as Cheap Trick have cooked up a fine collection of hard-driving tuneage that plays up each member’s individual strengths: Rick Nielsen flings out his patented meaty guitar riffs all over the place; his son Daxx confidently provides the solid, not showy backbeat; Tom Petersson brings the thunder with his always-solid bass runs; and the musical marvel known as Robin Zander belts out the tunes (or coos when appropriate) in a voice that seems to be unaffected by the passage of time.
The leadoff track, the uber-catchy “The Summer Looks Good on You,” is the obvious single and was, in fact, released as such as a teaser back in 2018. It features an indelible chorus with an instrumental break that vaguely recalls “Dream Police” and is one of the easy highlights of In Another World. (Similarly, the power poppy “Here’s Looking at You” borrows just a smidgen from the band’s “She’s Tight.”)
The foursome also hits the mark on cuts such as the sweet, hopeful “Another World” and its sister track, “Another World (Reprise),” which is basically the same song reimagined as a spiffy, speedy rocker with a bridge added. Some tasty drum fills from Daxx Nielsen and an incredible vocal performance from Zander add to the song’s power — Zander’s screams at the close of the song punctuate what is a standout performance and provide a bit of proof as to why he has long been considered one of rock’s premier lead vocalists. The backing vocals on the bridge—possibly provided by Zander’s son Robin Taylor Zander, although the CD notes aren’t completely clear — are pure Magical Mystery Tour. Speaking of those Beatles, the stark, pretty “So It Goes” plays like a latter-period Beatles ballad, and the band has a go at John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” with fair-to-middling results (although Rick Nielsen’s gonzo soloing is pretty nifty). Overall, In Another World is fortified by the strongest batch of CT originals in several years. It won’t make anyone forget Heaven Tonight or Dream Police, but it’s a damn fine record.