After 25+ years, and almost as many albums, you'd think that Cheap Trick would be pretty much be over and out. Not many bands can last that long and still be viable as a creative unit. Yet, CT has gone from being a 70s arena rock band to a schmaltzy 80s Top 40 pop group, only to survive into the 90s and now the 2000s as a hip underground indie power-pop powerhouse. That's what I call survival.
1997's self-titled indie effort put Cheap Trick back into the forefront of music fans' minds, mixing their knack for catchy pop songs with a new emphasis on modern rock stylings. They aren't stuck in the 70s or the 80s, and they prove it by re-inventing their sound without losing the endearing traits that made them famous way back when.
With Special One, they continue the adventure they started in the late 90s, blending cool pop structures with modern rock attitude. They venture from song to song, sometimes being radio friendly, and sometimes wandering off into left field. Perhaps the band is at their strongest when they take chances, like on the full throttle angst of Sorry Boy, the fun double funk of Low Life In High Heels/Hummer or the quiet Japanese-inspired rhythms of the title track.
At the same time, songs like Too Much, My Obsession and Words are radio friendly power-pop tunes---but the funny (and sad) thing is that there aren't many radio stations left that play this kind of stuff! If there were, we'd have more than a few hits on our hands here. Not The Flame-type fluffy chart toppers, but solid memorable hits that would stand the test of time. For one thing, Cheap Trick is too far removed from the bubblegum & hip-hop of today's Top 40 radio, and actually too progressive for most classic rock stations. They're left out in the middle, where thankfully a lot of music fans are still wandering around. Finding those fans, however, might be a little hard considering the lack of radio and TV exposure.
With a little luck, this one will be truly special, pleasing long time fans and picking up a few new ones along the way.