Some people never learn their lesson. After Boston frontman Tom Scholz tested fan’s patience with an eight-year wait between 1978’s Don’t Look Back and 1986’s Third Stage, one wouldn’t have expected the fourth album (1994’s Walk On) to take another six years. And then another eight-year wait for this album?
Each wait made for a significant drop-off in Boston’s audience, but this time may have been the most obvious. Boston’s previous four efforts were all top 10 albums that sold at least a million copies. This album accomplished neither.
It may not be fair to evaluate an album based on its predecessors or how long the album took to make, but it’s hard to think that it took Scholz and Co. eight years to create this. “As Tom Scholz fans might expect, a metallic sheen gleams across the surface of each track” (Doerschuk). Of course, this sound is exactly what turns off some people, but at least in the past, Boston delivered some unarguably memorable songs, even if they did sound too clean.
There are “resonant anthems like the politically correct title track as well as more intimate acoustic moments on With You and elsewhere. (The same sleek textures coat the album's one live track, a cover of Livin’ for You that’s marred only by the electronic snare drum, which sounds distressingly like the zap of a toy space gun.) Acoustic guitars glisten in fields of dewy reverb, while Scholz’s electric leads and fills project a streamlined muscularity” (Doerschuk). Still, none of these songs are the next ‘More Than a Feeling’ or ‘Amanda.’
“The vocals, delivered by a rotating cast of guests, range from arena stratospherics to whispery folkisms; in the fashion of Phil Spector, Scholz is more concerned with blending them into his timbral landscape than with encouraging interpretive profundities. But that’s fine, for Boston has always centered on one man’s sonic fantasies” (Doerschuk).
So in the end, there are some well done things about this album, but Boston’s past makes it too hard to appreciate them.