Apr 12, 201360There's enough gritty social commentary and songwriting class amid the occasional cheese to suggest that, on the long road to credibility, Bon Jovi are finally more than halfway there. [9 Mar 2013, p.52]
Mar 11, 201360It's easy to excoriate this band for producing another corporate-rock album, dominated as ever by Jon Bon Jovi's increasingly leathery bark and Richie Sambora's relentlessly uplifting guitar lines, but it's hard to slate them for still feeling kinship with their own blue-collar backgrounds.
7To me i liked Bon Jovi best when they had some stories to tell. Sure the big songs like 'Prayer' and 'It's My Life' have their place but what the last album 'The Circle' lacked were good songs (it might have had around 3 in my opinion).
So what do i make of 'What About Now'? I did not have high hopes at all but after hearing it through i certainly did not see it as throwaway as what some reviewers have. Sure it is not 80's and 90's Jovi but there is plenty to enjoy here and it is better than 'The Circle'.... i am not whincing as much but probably not as good as 'Have A Nice Day', which i thought was their best album of the 2000's with 'Lost Highway' a close second.
Highlights for me were:
* Because We Can (i initially did not like this song but it has grown on me over the last few weeks. Plus my fiance loves it and says it is her favourite BJ song..... i know, i know...)
* What About Now (there is always one good rock song on each Bon Jovi album; this is it)
* That's What The Water Made Me (another BJ rock song, similar to 'Superman Tonight' which i liked off The Circle)
* What's Left Of Me (i have a soft spot for the 'Lost Highway' album which was very underrated and has a lot of great songs on it. This sounds like it could have come straight off that 2007 album)
* The Fighter (i hear a lot of criticism of BJ ballads, but this one is simple and deserves praise)
* With These Two Hands [bonus track] (another great BJ rock track)
* Not Running Anymore [bonus track] (another ballad and technically a JBJ solo song, but this has great storytelling lyrics, something that was missing off the last record)
I really liked the maturity of some of the songs here. My only criticism of this record is that it could have done with some more rock songs over ballads (like 'Bounce') and some more 'meaty' guitar shredding by Richie Sambora, but at least the ballads are good here. If buying definitely pick up a copy with the bonus tracks as i have enjoyed them a lot.… Expand
4I’ve been a fan of Bon Jovi’s work for around the past 7 years, since just after the release of the fantastic Have a Nice Day in 2005. Their lir latest What About Now is one I’d compare mostly to their previous album, 2009’s The Circle, where song structures & choruses became more arena-friendly & lyrics strayed from personal struggles & more in the realm of politics & self-empowerment. And as a result it made for a welcome slight shift in their overall sound. However, despite a few duds here & there in the band’s discography, What About Now is the first Bon Jovi album I’ve ever disliked as a whole. Why, because they made some monumental change that alienated a lot of people? Nope, actually the problem is quite the opposite. In a nutshell it’s just a watered-down version of The Circle. I’d compare the situation most to a disappointment from last year, Mumford & Sons’ Babel. Their first album (which FYI I’m comparing to The Circle), while containing a couple duds & having a fairly repetitive formula, still managed to keep things fresh throughout, offering little bits of diversity in the process as well as some heartfelt lyrics. Next time around however they took the small bad things about the first album & blew them up, making everything feel formulaic & phoned-in, despite a few highlights. Here though it’s an even worse case; not only because there’s less key tracks, but also because there’s an all-around dullness that’s being overproduced-ly forced in your face throughout. Easily the biggest flaw with this album is how ridiculously uninspired, pretentious & corny the lyrics are. It names off pretty much every conceivable cliché “you can do it”/”self-empowerment”/”going through hard times” phrase in the book & doesn’t even try to hide that fact. And not only that, there are a few moments where Bon Jovi is practically copying themselves. First off, the vocal melodies & structure of the verses in the title track sound just like lazy a conglomeration between The Circle’s Superman Tonight & Happy Now. I’m With You subject matter-wise is just a self-important & less effective version of Keep the Faith’s Dry County, and Thick as Thieves is just Bounce’s Right Side of Wrong without the great lyrical imagery. Oh, and the verse melody in Beautiful World is a blatant copy of Matchbox Twenty’s How Far We’ve Come. And musically, while the album is far more tolerable in this department, it still feels like not as much effort was put in as there was on previous albums. Some tracks find themselves either without a good hook or trying desperately (and failing) to find one. And even Richie Sambora’s great guitar solos are for the most part reduced to mindless noodling. I thought Because We Can was a mediocre first single when I first heard it, but honestly it’s still one of the more notable tracks here. I mean despite the generic lyrics, at least it sticks in my head nicely. If there’s one track here that I’m truly impressed by, it’d be What’s Left of Me, which paints vivid & believable pictures of people going through hard times & willing to push through in a way that works far better than similar attempts here. It even has a 2nd verse that doubles as a brief social commentary about the decline of the classic American punk rock scene. Reflective self-analyzing ballad The Fighter’s pretty good too. Overall though this album left me cold, and it’s my first (and hopefully only) big musical disappointment of 2013 so far.
Top 4 tracks: What’s Left of Me, The Fighter, Because We Can, That’s What the Water Made Me.
Score: 45/100… Expand
It looks like Bon Jovi have finally hit that point where rock bands start to really water down their sound. There are no timeless anthems here, just a bunch of bland amateur sounding tunes that aren't representative of one of the biggest rock bands of all time. After hearing this, it's no wonder that tickets for their tour went on sale months before the album's release a classic sign that the album's going to be awful. It looks like Bon Jovi are going to need a much needed time out to decide the musical future of the band. Surely when they play their classics like Livin' On A Prayer, Blaze Of Glory, Bed Of Roses and Always, they wonder where they went wrong with their new work?… Expand