Most helpful positive review
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Back on Track, But Still Room For Improvement
on December 5, 2003
First of all, if you don't own Bounce then order it NOW. And if you don't have Blaze of Glory then get that too and go read my review of that also, unless you consider yourself Jovi proficient.
Ok, now that Bounce is on the way to your house (for those of you who had previously contributed to the industry trend in declining record sales), let me tell you what to be ready for.
I wish one could rate halves. This album really is 4.5 stars.
First of all, the album is much better and less bland than Crush. It is also better than many of their albums, all of course which are are great anyway. As the self-proclaimed number one fan of Bon Jovi's MUSIC, I still say it doesn't have the musical aspirations of New Jersey and Keep the Faith, and although the songs may be better intended, it doesn't have the "classic-ness" of Slippery.
Bounce does, however, pack a punch. Always playing the game perfectly between musicality and commercialism, Bounce is almost a little TOO perfect, in terms of being the IDEAL modern day offspring of Slippery When Wet. Unfortunately, there's something about "modern day" that necessitates a decline in timelessness (9/11 inspirations not-withstanding). That said, Bounce doesn't sound dated, and they don't betray the roots that got them to where they are either. They don't use too much of 'the formula' so all they churn out is a stale throwback, but all will agree that this is a BON JOVI album, if there ever was any. So at the same time, they are not selling out and using all of the modern blips and bloops in the studio just to be accepted in the current day. The band cared about making viable music here, as they always do.
Which means, the "formula" to make Bounce is perfect. A little of the 9/11, done with respect, but not too much to be viewed as a cash in. A few ballads, but not too many to pigeonhole them as a sellout ballad band again, which happened in the mid 90's. You hear a lot of hooks, but you don't drown in them.
And perhaps the most important element, the rocking!!!!!!! Undivided, Everyday, Hook Me Up, and the title track (which is so good it is excused from being a revised 'It's My Life').... I've been waiting for this for years!!!! It isn't thrash metal, but it IS something that is badly needed. Crush didn't really have ANY of this type of song. Island records doesn't even put the band on the Hard Rock list! And I HATE the word pop.
Each element that went into this album was measured with taste; there's just the right amount of everything.....
....Except for musical virtuosity. Don't get me wrong, Jon never had aspirations to be in a prog band, but as a supporter of progressive rock myself, I always admired the band for being so talented yet taking their music to the masses so they would also achieve significance to the common man as well.
This album has a lot of great "songwriting" - which is great - but there is not one musical epic on the album. If you can write a few 'Prayers', you can write another "Dry County!" "Right side of Wrong" could have come close, but the chords are too simple, and Richie has this ongoing insecurity problem these days, of not overplaying. He is all about tone, which is also great, ... but we'd always get atleast one really stellar solo before, to remind everyone of what Bon Jovi COULD be. This time around, the album clocks in at 49:06, which is just waaaay to short, especially for 12 songs. EVERY song is the standard form, and moderately succinct. Jon says what he needs to then gets out of the song. Again, this has its place, but in a new Bon Jovi album, there needs to be more diversity. Epics, rockers, ballads, anthems, some blues perhaps, some other surprises.... but then, I can't help but act like a parent of the band when I listen to them, or like a piano teacher, I suppose... "You could do better if this", and "It would be REALLY great if that...."
Ultimatley, the band itself is what decides what kind of music it will write. Still, they do try to do what the fans want, and I feel in this review I have the right to ask for more. It's only because I love them so much. I get done with the album and I love it so much that I just want to listen to tracks 13 through 17, which don't exist. Just like New Jersey after Slippery: after Crush, MANY MANY people were guaranteed to buy the followup blindly. It is such a rare opportunity, I don't know how one can NOT put some other features into the album, to show off the band (Dave, write us a piano piece for God's sake! And I'm not talking about Lunar Eclipse), GIVEN there are ALREADY the singles there that will sell the album what it will, nomatter what. If they didn't want the world to hear their music, they would have never done what they've done so far. I hope the band doesn't just sit on the bonus packages that come with the 20 year anniversary so Jon can do movies for a few more years.... the band is REALLY really close to Greatness (again), but they must push onward and make more music. No more 2 albums and 5 year delays!
But just the fact that there IS yet another 'new' BJ album out is an oasis in the desert of a jaded music scene. Which sadly is more than can be said for GNR....
Bounce is a good album.