It is an undisputed fact that every single time Bon Jovi is about to come up with a new record, a red alert is signaled throughout the global rock community. After all, this is the most successful hard rock band ever. The truth is that the Bon Jovi fans were greatly disappointed in Richie Sambora’s sudden and unexpected departure but also in the band’s recent musical direction. So, is the new album a return to fine and much missed form or yet another hit and miss? Let’s see…
The overall positive feedback from the first couple of video clips (the title track and the brilliant “Knockout”) created high expectations and in this mood we started listening to “This House Is Not For Sale”. Let’s start with the positive aspects: from a lyrical standpoint it is angry and true showing a troubled, disappointed yet optimistic at the same time Jon Bon Jovi. There are three really good songs that I guess will found their way on the set list of the band’s upcoming tour. We are talking about “Born Again Tomorrow”, “Living With The Ghost”, “Roller Coaster”. Also, it would be a mishap if we didn’t mention “God Bless This Mess” (with its “Lost Highway” aesthetic) and “The Devil’s In The Temple” (that could have easily been a classic Bon Jovi track if it had a different arrangement). Unfortunately, the negative points are more and more obvious. For starters, the production is absolutely plastic, dead flat and barely suitable for a rock album as it reminds more of U2 and Coldplay. In addition, the overall mood of the album is close to “What About Now”; a record that wasn’t received favorably in the press and fan circuit. Don’t get me wrong…I am not against the pop elements on an album (this is Bon Jovi and not Metallica) but those have to go hand in hand with the core musical identity of the band (like it happened in “Crush” and it’s not anywhere to be found here). Last but certainly not least, Sambora is sorely missed on the album. Truth be told here; no one is irreplaceable but I am sure that Aerosmith wouldn’t sound the same without Perry or Stones without Richards.
All in all, “This House Is Not For Sale” could have/should have been better. Yes, “Knockout” is rightfully considered as a classic Jovi song, the title track stands on solid ground and some of the aforementioned songs are really good but don’t save the day. We’d expected more from Bon Jovi…that’s the bottom line. We always expect nothing but the best from them and unfortunately we didn’t get it…again.
Highlight: “God Bless This Mess” is one of the finest tunes that Bon Jovi has come up with since 2007.