So Happy It Hurts
It’s the first law of Canadian rock: When you see a black-and-white portrait of Bryan Adams clutching his guitar on the front of an album, good times are guaranteed. After collaborating with the likes of Ed Sheeran and J. Lo on 2019’s eclectic Shine a Light, Adams announces So Happy It Hurts’ back-to-basics mission with a cover that evokes the iconic images that graced 1983’s Cuts Like a Knife and 1991’s Waking Up the Neighbours. The 12 tracks contained within likewise honor Adams’ reputation as a human truck-stop jukebox—though in the wake of the pandemic, his mission to rock out has taken on a greater, soul-saving gravitas. The opening title track is an instant Canuck road-trip classic, merging Springsteen-esque heartland valor with loving references to the Trans-Canada Highway and Rocky Mountains, while the arm-swaying anthem “Always Have, Always Will” may have you checking the fine print to confirm that it’s not actually some lost mid-’80s gem. The only real curveball arrives in the form of a comically over-the-top mid-album interlude voiced by Monty Python veteran John Cleese—but it proves to be an elaborate setup for the simple pleasures of “Kick Ass,” an asphalt-ripping rocker that fully earns its title.