Some rock bands just don’t seem to be made for albums. They can easily create anthemic, catchy singles, which will get stadiums singing along, but if you ask them to make 12 of them, it all falls apart. Bon Jovi have some great songs in their back catalogue (bombastic, silly songs, but loads of fun nonetheless), but one would be hard pressed to say they’ve ever made a great album. Unfortunately this trend continues with This House Is Not for Sale.
The title track and lead single of This House Is Not for Sale is genuinely pretty great. The track is produced perfectly, with every drum beat sounding large enough to fill arenas. Bon Jovi sings about keeping the house he has built, and not letting a vague oppressor buy it from him. It comes across as a fairly timely anti-establishment message, although there’s some cognitive dissonance in Jon Bon Jovi (the man who recently tried to buy a football team) talking about being oppressed. The song is very much in the Springsteenian mould, but it’s a solid imitation, and lends itself well to singing along.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album can’t be held to the same standard. After another solid track, Living with the Ghost, the album quickly devolves into a slog of mid-tempo, faux-uplifting rock tracks, each of which feels more false than the last. Almost every track is churning guitars and slow drums, and the songs which try to experiment tend to quickly revert to formula. It’s somewhere between U2 and Led Zeppelin, but feels much closer to the many pale imitators of those bands that have cropped up this decade.
Whilst it may have one good song, and one decent one, This House Is Not for Sale is a flop of an album. It’s overlong, dreary, and far too obsessed with bombast to actually convey any real emotion or depth. Bon Jovi might know how to write a great anthem, but they still can’t string together a good album.