Label: Island Def Jam 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Once upon a time Bon Jovi used to "Let It Rock". Those days are long gone, today's Bon Jovi plays laidback poprock with some country overtones. They are still an entertaining live act with a massive back catalogue of hits to rely upon, and while their recent albums have been a bit on the bland side of things, there's usually a song or two on each album that shows that they can still hit the bullseye every now and then.
On "What About Now", the first two tracks do the trick for me. The first single "Because We Can" is a catchy and fun track with a chorus that sticks like glue, while "I'm With You" is a moody, hugely melodic track that merges the old with the new quite beautifully. The whole first half of the album is actually quite good, with nice uptempo tracks like "That's What The Water Made Me" and a decent enough ballad "Amen". But then the band starts slipping... badly.
The second half of the album starts with a second-rate re-write of "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night" called "What's Left Of Me". Desmond Child, the co-writer of the band's classic hits is credited on the next song, but his involment doesn't help - "Army Of One" is Bon Jovi trying to be hip modern rock. Some fine playing from Sambora and nice keyboard work save the song from being completely forgettable. No such luck with "Thick As Thieves", which is modern-day Bon Jovi at their worst - whiny balladry with no hooks to speak of. "Beautiful World" is better, a rather okay uptempo track and easily the best one of the second half. The two remaining tracks can't compete, "Room At The End Of The World" is a dull U2-like midtempo song while "The Fighter" is an acoustic one with Jon Bon Jovi going to Nebraska or something. You might go to sleep while listening to it.
Now that Sambora's out of the band, be it temporarily or permanently, I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the last Bon Jovi band album. I hope not, the Bon Jovi fan in me hopes for a one last album with big, bold rock songs and no whiny ballads. The realist in me says "yeah, right".