Review: "This House is Not For Sale" - Bon Jovi

by Joe McIndoe,

With their 14th studio album, This House Is Not for Sale, Bon Jovi makes a triumphant return.

It’s been a far from easy road through adversity, with former guitarist Richie Sambora’s sudden and unceremonious departure during a busy tour schedule back in 2013, not to mention a spat with their long-time record label, Mercury Records. The indignity of this saw the band reluctantly release a selection of castoffs just to meet contractual obligations.

Rather than diminishing the group, their inner turmoil only seems to have sparked a fresh wave of determination and pointed focus.

The opening three tracks of This House Is Not for Sale, Living with the Ghost and Knockout are rambunctious radio ready rockers, that are intent on exercising Demons and taking no prisoners.

“These four walls have got a story to tell, the door is off the hinges, there’s no wish in the well... I set each stone, I hammered each nail,” Jon sings of his craft, and his band.

The song is a gloriously defiant demonstration that, despite some wear and tear from a career spanning three decades, Bon Jovi will not be brought down by a perceived lack of integrity and commitment.

If those listening to the title track aren’t quite convinced that this is a message for former bandmate Sambora, the next offering should raise a few eyebrows.

Living with the Ghost serves to insist that Bon Jovi are washed clean of their mistakes and they are far from haunted by their past association. The New Jersey rockers sing “I left your scars for the stars, got in my way, I traded hurt in for healing, I must admit I was reeling now I’m feeling just fine, traded nightmares for dreaming, go tell your shadows that I got out alive…”

The pair may insist that there is no bad blood but the song certainly leaves things open to an alternate interpretation, to say the least.

The third of this 12 track offering [17 for those that splash out for the Deluxe] Knockout lashes out at the critics and the haters courtesy of a zingy chorus that packs a powerful punch. This triple pack of ditties not only sets the ground work for what is a catchy confident, vibrant and, self-aware confessional LP, but also showcases a songwriter with fresh drive and freedom to tell it as he feels.

Much in the same way as 2005’s Have a Nice Day, it feels as if there’s a sense of righteous anger underpinning much of the record. This displeasure is crafted into singalong tunes that demand attention, roar their opinion and are cleverly designed for universal appeal.

This album doesn’t seek to reimagine the Bon Jovi brand. On the contrary, there are plenty of familiar tropes, scattered throughout.

There’s the usual call to seize the day and live your life, courtesy of Born Again Tomorrow and New Year’s Day, critique of a cynical and decaying music industry with Devil’s in the Temple, and the doting love song through Scars On The Guitar [admittedly about the love of music]. There’s even shades of past rebellious standards like Bounce, Burning Bridges, and Last Man Standing.

However, not everything here is a resounding success.

Labour of Love offers a sweet sentiment but is a little too long and a little too repetitive to be in keeping with the albums success. New Year’s Day also proves to be too much like treading over old ground, particularly as it’s in such close proximity to the similarly themed Born Again Tomorrow. This is further compounded by the fact that Born Again Tomorrow is reminiscent of much on the 2009 release The Circle.

The project prospers, where others like What About Now [2013] and the aforementioned Circle struggled. This is because in place of empty cheesy platitudes, we get an act chomping at the bit to make a point. Rather than standardized numbers we receive heartfelt tales, and instead of some rather forgettable compositions, the band’s backing hooks the listener in from the very first minute.

Despite, all of that though it’s the concerted effort by the band to provide consistent quality that fosters the most goodwill, even in the album’s weakest moments.

1 comment

Edwine Nashasa said...

Cool song!
Bon Jovi became a legendary band for all the 80s and 90s people

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