Polishing the pop metal: Bon Jovi follows successful formula
|Detroit Free Press Review of BOUNCE
There's something reliable, even comfortable, about Bon Jovi in 2002. Maybe it's the familiar scratch of Jon Bon Jovi's voice, which still sounds the way it did on "Runaway" in 1984. Maybe it's the big choruses, which still sound the way they did on "Runaway" in 1984. Maybe it's the yearning sentiments in the lyrics, which still sound the way they did . . .
"Bounce" is the eighth album for the most successful survivor of '80s pop metal. Bon Jovi is enjoying a new sort of career high -- scoring blockbuster sales and a little respect -- but not because the band's doing anything different. In fact, as the new record reveals, Bon Jovi succeeds because it keeps doing the same thing.
If anything, Bon Jovi has returned even more firmly to the past: After lightening the rock crunch for 2000's poppy "Crush," the band has powered back into an arena-rock attack. The hooks are huge; the guitars squall often enough to provide a facade of danger. And the band wouldn't be from New Jersey if it didn't offer at least one anger-edged song about Sept. 11 ("Undivided") and an indulgence in Springsteen Lite ("Joey").
Hard rock? OK, yeah, so there are strings and pianos all over the place -- vocalist Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora are in their 40s now, and they've got something Serious to say. For every solid, straight-ahead pop-rocker like "Misunderstood," there's a stretch like "The Distance," which crams together sweeping strings and bluesy guitars and these sorts of verses: "Like that lonesome whistle blowing/ I keep on going."
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