It’s taken me awhile, but I have finally accepted that Bon Jovi are never going back to their hard rock days. Their last great album — These Days — was delivered more than 20 years ago and they have a few hits but more misses for my tastes since. The band reinvented itself in 2000 with the release of “It’s My Life” — a good career move to stay relevant and popular. They have delivered an abundance of pop rockers since, and their latest album, This House Is Not For Sale (THINFS), continues the trend with formulaic songs and some recycled ideas from previous efforts.
THINFS is the the band’s first official post-Richie Sambora album. Guitarist Phil Xenidis (Phil X) has been hired to replace Sambora since he bailed in the midst of their Because We Can Tour in 2013. However, it’s clearly evident by the album’s liner notes and marketing materials that co-producer John Shanks (along with Jon Bon Jovi) has more involvement beyond producer. Shanks has co-written much of the material and plays more instruments on the project than any other member.
The title track and first single resemble 2005’s “Have A Nice Day.” Die-hard fans would notice the similarities of the opening guitar riff but casual fans would probably confuse the two as they sound nearly identical. The lyrics are different, but say pretty much the same thing. Both tracks are about standing up for yourself and have other music similarities.
A few tracks stand out to me while several don’t appeal to me at all. “Come On Up To Our House” is a nice six-eight ballad that could do well at radio. There’s something about that time signature that gets me going so this one is a nice closer for the standard edition. “Reunion,” a song that JBJ sang during a commencement speech last May for Rutgers University graduates, could easily be him saying farewell to Sambora, someone he claims he hasn’t spoken to since 2013. “The Devil’s In The Temple” is a nice rocker with an oddball beat. The guitar only interludes are similar to previous Bon Jovi hits with the drums rocking through the toms during the verses. “Labor Of Love” has a nice Fifties guitar riff in the verses which makes for a change of pace.
The deluxe edition kicks off with “Real Love,” a really pretty piano ballad that makes the listener long for another night with the love of their life. “We Don’t Run” is recycled from last year’s Burning Bridges contractual-obligation album that Jon was against releasing. The guitar heavy uptempo rocker is once again about standing up for your beliefs.
Many of the rest of the songs just don’t really appeal to me with “Knockout” being the least appealing overall. It’s another song that involves living your own life. It’s one of the most poppy songs on the album. The lyrics are childish: “Cause I’m giving you the finger / And sticking out my chin / Boom boom boom / Here comes the boom boom boom / Here comes the knock out / Until the last round.”
Many of the songs follow the same formula of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, outro. Several songs feature common time drums during the verses but cut to a half time feel during the choruses. This is pretty common in latter Bon Jovi hits. The songs are overproduced with attention given to stringed instrumentation and mixes that are less than desirable. However, the songs stick in your head, whether you want them to or not.
I’ve been told before that I have a “you kids get off my lawn” mentality when it comes to music, but I like what I like and don’t really care what these people think. I get that the band wants to continue to appeal to the younger generation, but as a classic rock fan, I just don’t care too much for their latter material, much of it produced by Shanks.
No offense to Shanks, as whatever he’s doing is working for the majority of the population, but I just prefer the Bob Rock and Bruce Fairbairn produced albums over anything else. Those albums stand the test of time and have so much heart and soul, in my opinion. Many may deem songs on those projects as cheesy, but those are the songs that get me off, so to speak. I think JBJ is so focused on the machine staying relevant — and I don’t fault him for this — that longtime fans like myself are kinda left out. Many may have bailed, but I still buy every album, so I guess I’m along for the ride whether it fits my tastes or not.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.