A ghastly collection that might as well have been written by a computer.
Barney Hoskyns 2010-02-25
Few rock genres have been as formulaic, anodyne, and unhip as AOR, a late 70s acronym for Adult Oriented Rock or Album Oriented Rock. Among the juggernaut bands that drove its melodic lite-metal sound into the early 80s, Foreigner scored huge with Feels Like the First Time, Cold as Ice and other strained emotings. As with kindred spirits Boston, Journey and more, they delivered at least one redeeming beauty of a hit, the ardent, desperate Waiting for a Girl Like You. The faux-gospel opus that was I Want to Know What Love Is has fans such as Mariah Carey, who covered it last year.
Like so many veteran rock bands, Foreigner is now little more than a trademark owned by its British founder Mick Jones. Fifteen years after their last album release, Jones has cobbled together a unit of proficient hacks to craft a ghastly collection of songs that might as well have been written by a computer programme. Pulsing rhythms, glistening guitar arpeggios, hideously clichéd lyrics and heroically angsty vocals: they're all here in abundance, tailor-made for future X Factor contenders.
Except that songs like In Pieces, Living in a Dream and I Can't Give Up are so formulaic and characterless that even Simon Cowell and his minions couldn't, in all seriousness, consider them as raw material for the mass fakery The X Factor trades in. Singer Kelly Hansen is a composite of every AOR frontman in history, so dull he makes one nostalgic for the band's original singer Lou Gramm. The rest of the band (guitarist Tom Gimbel, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Brian Tichy) play with a leaden predictability that quickly has the listener bashing his head against the nearest available wall.
If Too Late – driven by electric piano chords – vaguely recalls Cold as Ice, nothing on Can't Slow Down comes close to the vaporous majesty of Waiting for a Girl Like You. Not even an unlikely production cameo on the closing quasi-soul of Fool for You Anyway from Mark Ronson can save this abject item from the dustbin of history.