Review Summary: Keeping the brand name alive
Did you actually believe that Bon Jovi would release an album similar to their 80s style? For any fan which ''NO'' represents their answer, then judgment and comparisons must be made from ''These Days'' and onwards. This was the actual point where the band changed direction and style so comparing it with earlier records would not make sense. It is immediately recognisable that the band uses the same formula that it has been using the last decade or so: same material, ideas and style. All result into recycled music re-worked and patched to reach your ears, aiding to reach full capacity of arenas at the respective tour. Any of these songs could have been included in ''Crush'', ''Bounce'', ''Have a Nice Day'', etc but instead they find their way to a new album.
Like it or not, the inaugural (and single) ''Because We Can'' is one of the albums' best moments, as you'll realise after hearing the album once. Along with the self-titled ''What About Now'' and ''That's What The Water Made Me'' this trio represents the radio-friendly 'gladiators' that will be thrown in the arena of mainstream rock and be called to survive. As a close ally to them only the closing (and rather differential) ''Every Road Leads Home to You'' can stand. This may not be Sambora's best effort but at least is a decent one, which makes me wonder why he did not lead the vocals at least in one song in each of the last 6 albums.
The rest of the songs move along the paths of ballads and moderate paced tempos. Some like ''Pictures of You'' and ''Beautiful World'' are uplifting and have the vibe but it is obvious that they still missing something. Although ''Thick as Thieves'' and ''Room at the End of The World'' are sympathetic, they have the unique ability to leave you totally uninterested. Others like ''Amen'', ''The Fighter'' and ''Not Running Anymore'' are typical post-00s ballads of the band which in other times fans loved, however they do not engage you enough to sympathize with their material.
''Army of One'' is a song that could have been resulted into something great. It has that spark in the opening seconds with a simple drum filling pattern which builds up the intensity nicely. Just at the moment where you expect it to explode, after a short snare fill you hear the pattern repeating itself. Unfortunately, that's the style of the whole song. Not impressive at all. Also not impressive was the song ''What's Left of Me''. It will not take much time and effort for an all-time fan to recognise the similarities with previous hits as ''Who Says You Can't Go Home'' or even ''Someday I'll Be Saturday Night''. I'm sure there are much more.
For the record, the album debuted at #1 in the US but only time can tell if it's hits will be included in a best-of list. Backed up with vibe and excitement this release comes to add up to their multi-platinum career. However, the lack of originality is surely an element that will be criticised and Bon Jovi must find an answer to this.