Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Album Review: Sammy Hagar & the Circle - Space Between

Unpopular opinion: Sammy Hagar's career is a monument of underachievement and mediocrity. The guy has a fantastic voice, and he's only used it to cater to undiscerning masses by churning out generic hard rock. It's often rather pleasant (Montrose's first album, a cheap American Led Zeppelin knock-off offered a few classic rock anthems), sometimes very commercially successful (I Can't Drive 55 or his tenure in Van Halen were blockbusters that still sell today) and always absolutely unremarkable.

Unsurprisingly, this new album is just more of the same bland, run-of-the-mill hard rock. His new band, comprised of Jason Bonham on drums, Michael Anthony on bass and Vic Johnson on guitar, is competent to say the least. And the players, like the project, are all loose and likeable and this is why the record ends up being a pleasant listen despite its derivative nature and its lack of memorable songs.

More grating than the cliché, inane lyrics are the stock riffs and force-fed melodies of tracks like Affirmation or Can't Hang, which is a bluesy number that sounds like they were trying to recreate Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead Or Alive without that knack for great melodies that made that band so good.

The LP opens with Devil Came To Philly, an anthem number which fades out before it has a chance to kick in, and it closes with another singalong which also goes nowhere. Those songs are indicative of the rest of the record: Full Circle Jam (Chump Change) is by-numbers boogie rock which boasts cool guitar licks here and there but ends up ultimately unsatisfying. Free Man is a heavy, tuneless song which is actually quite unpleasant. Trust Fund Baby is a fast-paced rocker with a cool riff, but it's one you've heard a thousand times before.

The best songs are Bottom Line and No Worries, cool little tunes you'd be likely to hear on classic rock radio. They are impossibly generic and forgettable, but they serve their purpose.

The whole album serves its purpose. That's the problem: it never goes beyond merely serviceable. As background music when you're drinking beer and playing pool in a bar, the album will do the trick. And if you've had enough drinks in you, you might even think it's good. The thing is, it's not. It's generic, derivative, and generally uninspired.

Several veteran bands are treading the same waters with their new records, only much more successfully: the new Whitesnake album,  despite also being ridden with clichés, is a great release. The new Tesla LP is also a better purveyor of classic hard rock thrills. That's because unlike Hagar and his buddies they didn't forget to write actual songs.

Genre: Hard Rock
Release Date: May 10th, 2019
Label: BMG
Rating: 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment on this post: