This House Is Not for Sale
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE These five words I swear to you: Crowd-pleasing Bon Jovi rock returns
There’s a lot riding on Bon Jovi’s new album “This House Is Not for Sale” (Island).
It’s the first album since the well-publicized exit of guitarist Richie Sambora, the first album for a label that isn’t Mercury Records — Bon Jovi’s home for the previous 32 years — and the first to come at a time when there are questions about whether the band would continue.
So, of course, Jon Bon Jovi and friends hit it out of the park. Once past the clunky title track, which trips over a chorus that is so defiantly bad it is has to have some personal meaning to the band, “This House Is Not for Sale” is no-nonsense, meat-and-potatoes Bon Jovi hit-making rock.
“Born Again Tomorrow” and “New Year’s Day” sound like they could have come from pretty much any Bon Jovi album in the past 30 years. “Living With the Ghost” has that timeless quality too, though its subject matter seems pretty obviously related to recent events. “I wrote each word, you gave the toast,” Bon Jovi sings. “But we were fire and gasoline. I ain’t living with the ghost.”
“Knockout” and “Rollercoaster” show that Bon Jovi has been listening to the radio, with their amped-up, pop-leaning choruses that would still fit nicely next to “Runaway.” But the tender “Labor of Love,” which showcases new guitarist Phil X’s shimmering work, and the aching beauty of “Scars on This Guitar” show how Bon Jovi continues to grow.
“This House Is Not for Sale” doesn’t have any country tinges, none of the experimentation that has marked recent Bon Jovi albums. There’s nothing wrong with that, though some will miss some of the hard-rocking edge that Sambora’s guitar used to bring. Nevertheless, Bon Jovi knows how to be Bon Jovi and they still do it better than anyone else.