Very objective and positive
|Classic Rock review of Crush
Review by Sian Llewellyn
Awarded 4 red and 1 black star = Excellent
Five years is a long time. And for the members of Bon Jovi, it's the time it took them to to get back together and record their eighth album. The break has done them good, too. Jon and guitarist Richie Sambora seem to have sated their individual hunger with their respective solo forays and resumed their songwriting partnership without a hitch. Even keyboardist David Bryan has gotten back into the act now they're regrouped; here we get to listen to the fruits of their labour.
Exploding back to life with current single 'It's My Life' - 'Livin' On A Prayer''s spiritual older brother (even familiar friends Tommy and Gina get a mention) - Sambora's talkbox riffery and the mighty shout-a-long chorus serves as a reminder of what we always loved about Bon Jovi. It doesn't just tip it's hat to 'Prayer...' either; it also echoes the sentiments of 'Keep The Faith' single, 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead': Till I'm six feet under/I won't need a bed/Goona live while I'm alive/I'll sleep when I'm dead'. Indeed, its cheery optimism and 'fuck you' attititude showcasting its vintage-era pop-metal.
And just as the first track is quintessential Jovi, so it the plaintively titled 'Thank You For Loving Me', the album's first ballad. As the chorus kicks in, you just know that's your cue for holding your lighter aloft. Once again, it has its roots in the Jovi of yesteryear, as its deceptively quite piano intro reaches a massive string section crescendo reminiscent of their huge large hit, 'Always'. No bad thing.
Although much has already been said about 'Crush' being Jovi's 'back to basics' album, there's a defiantly millennial feel in the whole shebang; drum loops and funky effects are used and thanks to excellent production by Jon, Richie and relative newcomer Luke Ebbin, there's a classy sheen to it - just listen to the maturity of the delicate 'She's A Mystery', a track that would haven at home on Jon's 'Destination Anywhere' album.
Bon Jovi are clearly a band glad to be back; we're even treated to a little studio tomfoolery before 'Two Story Town' and, regrouping with long-time songwriting partner Desmond Child, Jon and Richie extol the virtues of 'One Wild Night' to marvellous effect - the big chorus, infectious riff and 'na na na na na' refrain being the antithesis to Jovi's last effort, 1995's darker, brooding 'These Days' album.
Despite its intro, 'Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars' - an inspired but ridiculous song title - isn't a reworking of James' 'Sit Down' and instead has some of 'Crush''s coolest lyrics and again reinforces the album's prevailing theme of optimism.
At first, the simple unadorned guitar of 'Next 100 Years' tricks you into thinking it's Bon Jovi doing Oasis, but when Richie chimes in with his trademark harmonies on the second refraon you can breathe a sig of relief because, vocally, both he and Jon are on top form.
Ostensibily it's a love song, but you can't help thinking that the lyrics - 'I'll be standing here/For the next 100 years/If it should all end tonight/I'll know it was worth the fight/And we'll be standing here/For the next 100 years' - are equally a comment above the future of the band. If they need five years off between albums to create something this tasty, I'm more than happy to wait until 2005 for the next one.
If there's one song that sums up 'Crush', and indeed Bon Jovi the band, then it's got to be 'Just Older' - it's one of the highlights, and if isn't one of the biggest radio hits of the summer, there's no justice.
Starting off in a decidedly Springsteen vein, it's all chugging powerchords and blue collar reminiscences: 'I like the bed I'm sleeping in/It's just like me, it's broken in/It's not old - just older/Like a favourite pair of torn blue jeans/This skin I'm in it's alright with me/It's not old - just older.'
The piano and acoustic guitar breakdown recalls 'New Jersey''s epic 'Blood on Blood' before bouncing back with a traditionally catchy Bon Jovi chorus.
Throughout their career, much to JBJ's chagrin, much has been made of his appearance and specifically his haircut, but even he makes a concession to it on this track as he sings, 'Tell Coach T I've cut my hair',
Lyrically, much of the album speaks of staying true to yourself and that's exactly what Bon Jovi have done. Ultimately, listening to 'Crush' os like rediscovering long lost friends and realising thta no, they're not old, just older. And wiser.
And goddammit, just as brilliant as they ever were.