Another huge frustration :(
Could' have been the best ever...
Well well well,
It's hard to describe the feeling after listening to it, even after a while... There is excellency and there's mediocrity in there... There's a new sound, not always making good sense, there are honest tries, but no real successes... Sometimes brilliant, sometimes ridiculous...
I've been a fan since 1985. I grew up with the band. It always felt like they were getting better all the time. But since Crush, they're looking for themselves again, and looking the wrong way. Seems like they worked very hard and concentrated too much on the new guitar sounds and computer effects (which are great through ear phones), and forgot all about rock basics (Where are the great backing vocals and the guitar solos?). They should be using KTF and These Days album as references, instead of SWW and New Jersey, which were great albums for a young rock band, but KTF and TD were huge mature albums. No wonder they're fan favourites. Once you reach such a level, you can't go back without disappointing.
Here's a rating of the songs: (I'd be glad to discuss this by email with whoever feels like it)
1- Undivided: Good hard rock song. Powerful guitar, lyrics and melody. Good opener. Clever ending. Needs a solo. 8/10
2- Everyday: Ok enough to sing along and headbang a bit. But still too easy. Feels like a "best of" album concentrated in a one song remix. "I said: It's my Life" could have been another title. No surprise for a 1st single. No surprise it didn't reach top chart spots. 5/10
3- The Distance: This is a good one. Easy to relate to. Well balanced between hard intro riffs and acoustic verse. Nice melody. Definitely THE real BJ song on this album. An ass kicking solo would have made a 10. So 9/10
4- Joey: These are hard to build. My refence for this kind of BJ song is "Someday I'll be Saturday Night". Honest try, but waaaaaaay behind. 4/10
5- Misunderstood: Catchy all right, but I didn't really know what to think of until I saw this lousy video. The story's ok but Jon and Richie look ridiculous. Just like the melody is nice but the lyrics are too obvious. Damn... indeed. 2/10
6- All about loving you: I think BJ should quit ballads for a while until a real good ones pops up by itself through real inspiration. I mean listen to Bed of Roses (deep real meaning, killing guitar, huge lead and backing vocals), then to this, look me in the eye and try telling me this is a good one. Who do you think will laugh first? Empty lyrics, easy guitar, no emotion... They had to put a ballad for a 2nd or 3rd single and forced themselves to this, lets face it. 2/10 (for the nice story in the video, which is a remake of Always as for BJ's appearance)
7- Hook me up: Wakes you up this one. At last something new, where the new guitar makes sense. Good lyrics, never had this before from BJ. Should be the live opener for the tour. "Hello... is there anybody out there?" that would make any BJ crowd go nuts. 9/10
8- Right Side of Wrong: Pffffffffff... Jon has done great solo work before (Dry Country, Blaze of Glory,...) but this... No Sir, No way. Stupid annoying story, boring arrangements. The only solo over 10 seconds on the album... and it had to be poor... Can't do it. 0/10
9- Love me back to life: Good Love/Rock song. Good use of the talk box (for the 4th or 5th time on this album... Stuck are ya?) Has it's place. 7/10
10- You had me from hello: If they quit power ballads for these, that's ok. Very nice, easy to relate lyrics and arpegios. The black spot is this horrible up beat break in the middle... Even I could come up with something better. Still touching. 7/10
11- Bounce: This one is so energetic. Again no solo but let's hope they saved it for live versions. 8/10
12- Open All Night: I'm sorry, but you don't close an album with what should have been an average B-side. 5/10 (I wish "No regrets" had been there instead)
So guys, ok I can hear the hard work, but I also hear the forced inspiration. So there I am frustrated, as my guitar lies bleeding in my arms... again.