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Bon Jovi - 'This House Is Not For Sale'

posted 22 Nov 2016, 09:31 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 22 Nov 2016, 14:42 ]

(Island Records)

Review by Woody

Bon Jovi were one of the first bands I really latched onto when I was discovering music and were my gateway band to a world of melodic rock and AOR and I’ve been an obsessive genre fanatic ever since. Bon Jovi have enjoyed a long career and its had it’s up and downs but they still remain one of the most iconic and beloved bands in the world.

Before I give my thoughts on the new album This House Is Not For Sale I just want to say a few things to potential listeners. Prior to the album been released a lot of people have already formed strong opinions on what was to come and I feel if your opinion is already strongly negative it’s highly unlikely you will enjoy this album because you’ve already decided to hate it and will look for anything to justify your hate once you have heard the music. If your pretty sure you’re going to hate it then it’s probably best not to waste your time with it!

Like most Bon Jovi fans, we see Richie Sambora as an integral part of the band and its sound. Most the pre-emptive negativity about this album is about the missing Sambora – with many declaring that without him the band will crash and burn. Others also say the album will have a Jon Bon Jovi solo album feel – but considering JBJ hasn’t released a solo album since the Nineties I’m not sure what that would mean. Also, given the ever-evolving Bon Jovi sound how can you say it’s distinctly removed from the BJ sound? Do you notice Sambora’s presence Is missing – yes you do but that doesn’t mean this isn’t Bon Jovi! The point is if Sambora’s absence leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it’s highly likely your preconceived opinion will taint your opinion so therefore making it a waste of your time!

Something that pops up a lot is the sound of the music a lot of people crave a specific era of the band and the bands ever evolving sound means many who want ‘Slippery’ part 2 or the more mature sound of ‘Keep The Faith’ part 2 are left bitterly disappointed. So, if you want a replication of a previous BJ album and are pretty sure it will suck if it doesn’t – again avoid this album because you know and I know you’re going to find fault and be disappointed. Something Bon Jovi have always done is try to update their sound and remain relevant within current musical times – the only fixed thing is they have a melodic rock core. I don’t think this is a bad thing and it may be part of the reason for the band’s longevity and constant recruiting of new younger fans. Yes, the past does hold the band’s biggest and best releases and there has been as many misses as hits since the new millennium, but they are still a band I’m drawn too and I make the most of those hits and leave the misses on the shelves.

Now onto the new album.

After my first play I was really impressed and enjoyed the album in its entirety and for me it’s probably their best complete album in a long time. Those stadium rock elements are still there; it’s just now those anthems have a slight Americanised pop rock fusion to them. There is still a rocking, punchy element to the music keeping its feet firmly in the rock spectrum. As you’d expect it’s extremely commercial and the more current feel to their sound makes them accessible to new fans and a younger audience.

Although this isn’t old school Jovi, the songs and the song writing does have that distinct Jovi flavour. So, to me there is no reason established BJ fans won’t find plenty to enjoy and rock out to on this album. It also contains a lot of what you expect from BJ a feel-good factor, lots of sing along moments and Anthems born for Stadiums. Just because the band aren’t stuck in a 1986 loop doesn’t mean they have neglected those infectious melodies and massive dollops of lush vocal harmonies that made them one of the most beloved melodic rock acts of all time either.

There is a theme of defiance running throughout the album most notably on the title track and the anthemic ‘Knock Out’ and these songs have a stirring energy that will really get people invested in the songs and it’s fighting attitude.

The stand out ballad is ‘Labour of Love’ which is easily as good as anything they have given us before even though it’s subtler than ‘Always’ or ‘Bed of Roses’. There is a melancholic feel to it in the music and the guitars which hint at Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’.

‘New Year’s Day’ and ‘Reunion’ are extremely positive songs not just musically but lyrically too and they contrast well alongside the defiant songs. ‘God Bless This Mess’ has become one of my favourites, it’s positive and I really like its be happy with yourself and accept who you are message.

I’m really drawn to ‘Living With The Ghost’ and ‘Roller Coaster’ which are not only overblown melodic pieces but have strong contemporary edges to them most notably in the guitar riffs which owe more to The Killers than Motley Crue. ‘Roller Coaster’ has a haunting harmony and an infectious chorus which made it an instant hit with me.

The only song that loses me is the album closer ‘Come On Up To Our House’ I find it a little bit cheesy, but I understand the inclusive and welcoming message the band are trying to convey with it and this mass sing along will appeal to many.

Jon Bon Jovi himself sounds as good as always and as you’d expect he delivers some tasty impassioned melodies throughout. The guitar riffs are really commercial and this is mainly where the ‘current’ edge to the music comes in. Very melodic and atmospheric and some are extremely instant hooks.

Anthemic stadium rock with attitude, an all-inclusive melodic rock album which can uplift, inspire and be enjoyed by anyone. They may be older but they are still relevant and maybe with this album the future will look a little brighter, not just for them but for us BJ fans too!

Track Listing: This House Is Not For Sale / Living With The Ghost / Knock Out / Labour Of Love / Born Again Tomorrow / Roller Coaster / New Year’s Day / The Devil’s In The Temple / Scars On This Guitar / God Bless This Mess / Reunion / Come On Up To Our House

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Roller Coaster