The strange story of Mr. Big involves a massive US number hit (1991’s To Be With You), enduring popularity in Japan, a 2002 breakup and reunion with the original lineup in 2009.
…The Stories We Could Tell marks the American hard rock band’s eighth studio album. Produced by Pat Regan, and comes after 2011’s comeback What If album.
Opener Gotta Love The Ride begins with a slow, percussive intro to slam shots to, before accelerating and galloping with the urgency of Heart’s Barracuda. Frontman Eric Martin’s vocals are well intact despite his age, sounding remarkably similar to how they sounded in the band’s heyday.
I Forget To Breathe may have verses that go through the motions and some clunky phrasing (‘MY world…MY skin..I for-GET to breathe’), but this is all redeemed through guitarist Paul Gilbert’s crafty solos.
Fragile glides with a glistening guitar intro, before stomping any tenderness out with a slick yet dirty beat that recalls classic 1980s rock. The poppy chorus is unforgettable, underpinned by Gilbert’s churning guitar licks.
Satisfied is a fulfilling, toe-tapping headbanger highlighting the greatest element of Mr. Big’s sound: thickly stacked, choir-like harmonies and bombastic drums. The guitar parts even have a bluesy twist to them, allowing the track to strut effortlessly. Another strut-worthy track is What If We Were New.
The midtempo power ballad The Man Who Has Everything threatens to be overbearing, but the strings and a spine-tingling echo on the line ‘turn my back on something beautiful’ soften the track.
A rapid-fire guitar intro that almost sounds like a synthesizer opens The Monster in Me, whose hardened, claustrophobic mood suitable for this Frankenstein-like tale despite its steady groove. The euphoric chord progression and effortless earworm chorus of Eastwest should make it a spectacular singalong for concert arenas or camaraderie around the campfire.
The tail-end of the album is fuelled by testosterone, with the bad-ass bar-ready anthem It’s Always About That Girl (which showcases a bit of Martin’s falsetto), Cinderella Smile (where Martin reaches down towards his lower register) and the filthy, gritty and condensed title track. Admittedly the last song has a bit too much going on, making it a slightly underwhelming album closer.
Mr. Big’s second album since its 2009 return has the band continuing to do what it does best: melodic hard rock delivered with strong vocals and powerful guitar parts. The band should have no problem holding onto its loyal fanbase and gaining new fans as well as a result.