Pros: *You get what youd expected from now-a-days jovi
*Singing not great
‘The Circle’ is Bon Jovi eleventh studio album, released in 2009. The album represents a return to the bands ‘roots’ after ‘Lost Highway’ which was influenced by country. Bon Jovi has alienated quite a bit of their fan base with consecutive subpar albums, and ‘The Circle’ is without a doubt the best album the band has released since 1995.
The 90s proved to be Bon Jovi’s creative peak, with the dark and introspective ‘These Days’ and the commercial juggernaut ‘Keep the Faith’. After taking a five year break, the band returned to the musical scene with the massive hit ‘It’s My Life’. Since then the band has been trying to recapture the songs success.
‘We Weren’t Born to Follow’ is the album ‘It’s My Life’ clone, and as usual the song was released as the first single. The lead single has a bit of a copy and paste feel to it, with a drum beat playing during the verses and a heavier riff during the chorus. A recurring theme on the album is the working man, as ‘We Weren’t Born to Follow’ and ‘Work for the Working Man’ are about this subject. The lyrics came off as extremely insincere, since they mostly consist of clichés and random call outs. The latter also borrows the riff from ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.
‘When We Were Beautiful’ and ‘Superman tonight’ are slower but better songs. The former has a nice riff intro, before building up in intensity for the chorus and a well-executed chant. Sambora is also allowed to shine as he dishes out a good solo. The only weak part of the song is probably the chorus, which is a bit too slow.
‘Superman tonight’ is a good multi layered track, which is obviously inspired by U2’s ‘Who’s gonna ride your wild horses’ although it’s nowhere as good as it’s inspiration. A powerful chorus and a stand out performance by drummer Tico Torres make the slow ballad a success. The lyrics are again quite weak though.
‘Bullet’ is Bon Jovi’s token heavy rock song for ‘The Circle’. Sambora shines again with a couple of good riffs, and a fast distorted solo. The lyrics bring down the quality of the song again, with the band recycling overused clichés. The chorus is also surprisingly weak. ‘Thorn in My Side’ follows, and the song would have fit in quite well in the bands 2005 album ‘Have a Nice Day’. ‘Thorn in My Side’ has refreshingly decent lyrics and a catchy chorus. A nice but short opening riff and a passable solo summarize the rest of the song.
‘Live Before you Die’ and ‘Learn to Love’, with the already mentioned ‘Superman Tonight’, are the ballads of the album. The former is the weakest track on the album, with really corny lyrics and a poor vocal performance by Jon. The song has a couple of memorable piano focused moments, but they are too far and in between. The latter is an acoustic driven track that tries to reach epic heights, but falls flat. The chorus is filled with ‘Halle Halle’, they might have sounded good on paper, but they don’t really work on the song.
‘Love’s the Only Rule’ and ‘Brokenpromiseland’ are brilliant tracks, the best on the album. The former is a catchy modern rock song, with decent lyrics and a good vocal performance by Jon. This song shows how good Bon Jovi can be if they want to be, combining riffs and synths for the chorus, ‘Love’s the only Rule’ also has two short but good solos. ‘Brokenpromiseland’ is similar to Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’, with a fading intro and a loud sing-a-long chorus. Unlike the majority of the album, the song has good lyrics and another brilliant Sambora performance.
Is ‘The Circle’ Bon Jovi triumphant return to form? Yes and no. Members like Tico and Sambora give one of their best performances in years, but weak lyrics and a phoned in performance by Jon hurts the albums overall value.