You would think that Bon Jovi would have been encouraged by the success of their last country crossover album to have attempted a radical rock makeover on their 11th studio album The Circle. A stint with recent Metallica producer Rick Rubin might have produced interesting results, as would exploring new rhythms, textures, er, anything. No siree. If there are any doubts that the group have their own money-spinning corporation to protect, not to mention an upcoming 30-country world tour, it's all here on their rockingly bland 12-track release.
'Who's gonna work for the working man?' lead singer Jon Bon Jovi anthemically croons as the rest of the group methodically chant 'WORK!' behind him. Bon Jovi may be taking brave steps lyrically as he gingerly confronts mortality (Live Before You Die), war (Bullet) and the passing of time (When We Were Beautiful), but the songs largely follow the same formula of slow buildups, anthemic choruses and squealy guitar solos. It might work live for diehard fans, but they did it all, and more sincerely two decades ago.