Review Summary: You can just hear the midlife crisis.
The name of its opening track “Because We Can” pretty much sums up the reason behind why Bon Jovi’s 12th studio album What About Now
was made. On it, the former hair metal megastar Jon Bon Jovi sings about how he doesn’t “wanna be another wave in the ocean," and how he’s “a rock, not just another grain of sand," but then offers no argument for why he stands out at this point in his group's career, or examples for why he’s even relevant anymore for that matter.
Now into their fifties, it’s a good thing that the members of Bon Jovi wisely chose to drop the glam metal theatrics long ago and save themselves the embarrassment, but since doing that, they haven’t been successful in making their music any less plain and bland as their now casual image. Since the turn of the century, Bon Jovi has been making new age soft rock that’s devoid of inspiration or appealing hooks, and vanilla arena anthems recycled since what seems like the dawn of time that pack frail nudges as opposed to solid punches.
And so here we are with What About Now
, an album whose title actually poses a question that should be addressed: "What about now?” Is this time going to be the record that will mark Bon Jovi's comeback? Is it any different or notable from their previous flukes? The answer is, unsurprisingly, no. What About Now
is really a record that’s obviously without any intention to make an impact in modern music, its sole purpose for being created is for the fun and for the fans. However, this album isn’t really much fun at all, and has very little that even the most committed and borderline-delusional fans will be attracted to.
It’s what anybody would expect, a dull hard rock album consisting entirely of turgid power ballads and fist-raisers that croon the same old sorrows and stomp to the same old rhythm. Bon Jovi actually seem unconfident in why they are taking their sound any further, and unsure of where they’re going with their music careers, so they take some notes on how to command the arenas from the current pop rock heavyweights, such as Coldplay and The Killers. Unfortunately though, as evidenced by “Army of One” and “Beautiful World," Bon Jovi can replicate the face of atmospheric rock, but none of its soul.
They’re still making rock songs for the stadiums, but who’s really filling up the seats anymore at this point? Instead of deciding to age gracefully, Bon Jovi have churned out What About Now
, which is a forgettable and drab affair that’s all about never giving up and moving forward, but never really stops to think about its inspiration for doing so, and significantly lacks the spirit to back up the determination.