The Canadian bro-rockers sixth studio long-player, the aptly named Wake Up Call finds Theory of a Deadman dialing back on the Nickelback-isms and delivering a streamlined (and nearly guitar-less) set of radio-friendly pop songs that (more or less) favors genuine emotion over callow frat boy misogyny. Frontman Tyler Connolly cites the procurement of a home piano and the revelation that "progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything" as mitigating factors in the group's newfound "wokeness," but he also knows what side his bread is buttered on -- lurid opener "Straight Jacket" and the equitably boorish "Po Mouth" cater to the group's worst tendencies. That said, the rest of Wake Up Call displays a level of lyrical maturity that has eluded the band since they first inked a deal with Chad Kroeger's 604 Records in 2001. Tracks like the heartfelt title cut, the fist-pumping "PCH," and the refreshingly non-judgmental opioid crisis anti-anthem "Rx" feel rooted in the present, despite their predictable paint-by-numbers melodies. In ditching the wan underbite rock of prior outings, TOADM has unearthed a flair for crafting big pop bangers that split the difference between the glowstick and energy drink allure of Imagine Dragons and the agreeable, arena-sized trad-pop of Coldplay. It's not a complete sea change, though some fans, especially those that lean harder toward the knuckle dragger side of the dude-bro spectrum, might feel compelled to jump ship, but it's a noticeable enough shift in temperament that the group's myriad detractors should feel compelled to give the fellas some credit for stepping out of their man cave.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger