It’s all too easy to be cynical or derogatory about Bon Jovi – the band who rocketed to stardom with their 80s perm rock hits Livin’ On A Prayer and You Give Love A Bad Name, but take the time to explore below their image and what you get is a truly phenomenal band with some killer songs under their belts.
As their more recent output, 2007’s Lost Highway and The Circle from 2009 can attest to, Bon Jovi can write some truly great tunes, and the same can be said of their new album What About Now.
More than just a collection of lazy rock writing that other hangers-on from the ‘80s seem keen on sprouting (did someone say Motley Crue!?), their twelfth studio album has solid tune after solid tune. No filler included.
Opening track and lead-off single Because We Can is this year’s epic stadium anthem and, with teases of some Queen influences, Bon Jovi sound like they’re celebrating their influences, whilst still sounding modern and influential.
And that’s the real secret: that Bon Jovi is a far more influential band than many would give them credit for. Think of any modern rock band from, Stereophonics to Train, and it’s hard not to draw comparison to Bon Jovi who pioneered anthemic stadium rock all those years ago.
Jon Bon Jovi himself still looks and sounds surprisingly young and, despite his recent rehab battles, guitarist and musical lynchpin Richie Sambora can still wield an axe better than most lumberjacks. The duo are in fine form and every bit the equivalent of Jagger and Richards, Plant and Page, or Tyler and Perry.
Where the album does fall short though is in up tempo songs rollicking along like a thunderstorm and the album does at times sound a little less fun than fans would be used to. Perhaps this is Bon Jovi in a reflective mood, as the serene Amen with its fragile thoughts of ‘mercy mercy, what else can I say’ attests to.
As if their songwriting skills weren’t honed enough, the country rock charm of What’s Left of Me will have you tapping your foot along in ecstasy, and I’m With You is nothing if not a career highlight.
With the release of this album and their upcoming Summer tour all raring to go, it’s clear that JBJ and his band of musical magicians are one of the last bastions of prolific activity in an era when so much music is produced at the click of a mouse. Refreshing yet familiar, if the band can continue making records this good, then their place in rock history is confirmed. Go buy it, I urge you to.