Journey followed their most successful effort, 1981’s chart-topping, multi-platinum Escape with what was largely an attempt “to use the same musical recipe” (DeGagne). Like Escape, 1983’s Frontiers was able to boast four top 40 hits “and a rock radio hit in Chain Reaction. All of the first five tracks (the album’s first side) had videos created for them” (JourneyMusic.com).
Despite another slew of hits, “Frontiers comes up a little short, mainly because the keyboards seem to overtake both Schon’s guitar playing and Steve Perry’s strong singing” (DeGagne). Overall “Jonathan Cain had more input on this album; not only did he once again help co-write all the tracks, he was the main pen behind Faithfully” (JourneyMusic.com). However an “overabundance of…[his] synth work cloaks the quicker tunes and seeps into the ballads, slightly widening the strong partnership of Perry and Schon” (DeGagne).
“Separate Ways grabs attention right off the bat with stinging synthesizer and a catchy guitar riff” (DeGagne) that makes it “one of the heaviest and most emotive tracks the band have ever recorded” (Classic Rock Magazine). “Journey never rocked harder than on Frontiers, with Neal Schon really ripping on Edge of the Blade and Rubicon” (Classic Rock Magazine).
“Send Her My Love emphasizes Perry's keen ability to pour his heart out” (DeGagne). “‘Faithfully’ tried to match the powerful beauty of ‘Open Arms,’ and while it’s a gorgeous ballad, it just comes inches away from conjuring up the same soft magic” (DeGagne).
“The rest of the songs on the album lack the warmth that Journey is famous for, especially in their mix of fervor and intimacy shown on this album’s predecessor” (DeGagne). “The album would have been even better” (Classic Rock Magazine) “had it not been for the last minute decision by Michael Dilbeck, the band’s longtime A & R man, to switch two tracks; he put Back Talk” (JourneyMusic.com), “a real stinker” (Classic Rock Magazine), “and Troubled Child in, and took out ‘Ask the Lonely’ and ‘Only the Young’” (JourneyMusic.com). The latter two were “two brilliant tracks” (Classic Rock Magazine) that were both later released on soundtracks and became top 10 album rock hits; “Only the Young” was a top 10 pop hit as well. They “appeared on the album’s 2006 reissue” (Classic Rock Magazine).