Commercial rock bands must strike a balance between the obligatory raucous pile drivers that fill the stadiums and the emotional ballads that linger on the charts and give an album legs. On its sixth studio release, Bon Jovi skillfully works both sides of that sonic street.
The highlights consist of two bombastic, backbeat-driven rockers ("Hey God" and "Damned") and two atmospheric, surprisingly moving ballads ("Lie to Me" and "Diamond Ring"). Bon Jovi takes the rest of the album off. The bulk of These Days is made up of dreary, mid-tempo anthems with lyrics that reflect dashed hopes and dispossession.
That the release is littered with filler probably doesn't bother the band. Consistency, after all, is the hobgoblin of folk singers. These are rock stars, damn it! (Mercury)