This is a more straight ahead rock 'n' roll album than Hellbound, Buckcherry's ninth full length, but it's a good one and it starts out great. The most obvious success on this one is how the band storm out of the gate with This and That and keep up the momentum and energy for four songs before a dip into softer material with Feels Like Love. The most obvious failure is that those four are always going to be the best four songs here. It felt that way on a first listen and it feels that way after four or five times through.
This and That kicks off proceedings all downhome with claps and stomps. It bulks up, of course, but the entire song is a hook. It's an extra bouncy opener with some neat slide guitar, an aspect that's strong whenever it shows up to play. Good Time is a solid follow up, heavier but not quite as bouncy or catchy. Then again, not quite here is rather like the 36 year old Lionel Messi not quite being like his 24 year old self. He can still run rings around almost anyone else. It's another strong song, as is Keep on Fighting, with a prominent bass from Kelly LeMieux, and, to a slightly lesser degree, Turn It On. It's still a good one and it has another excellent solo, presumably from Stevie D., after a first two songs earlier on Good Time.
I don't want to give the impression that it just tails off after that on an inexorable slide to the end of the album. However, Feels Like Love is a softer song that hints towards the influence that shows up in the form of a cover to close out, namely Bryan Adams's Summer of '69. They do this well, but I would suggest that Josh Todd's snarl fits their more up tempo rockers more than softer songs like Feels Like Love. Also, Summer of '69 is a perfectly palatable cover, but it feels unnecessary, because it's a classic that most of us already know and they don't add anything to the original.
And, crucially, while none of the songs in between the dip in energy and the cover are bad, they're never quite the first four, especially the first three. The best of them is probably With You, with its elegant guitar tone and effortless riffing that reminds of the Scorpions, though, Todd has no plan to attempt Klaus Meine's range, staying in that clean but grunge-tinged snarl of his throughout. Pain is interesting too, starting out like it wants to be the Beatles but then shifting into something more like Guns n' Roses covering them. The rest are just decent hard rock songs in the Buckcherry vein. None disappoint, but none carry the energy of the openers.
And that's about it. If you're into Buckcherry, then you're going to love this album. It's a purer and more focused effort than Hellbound and it has a few more highlights. They merely happen to stack the first side. And with half of this an easy 8/10 but the other half more like a 6/10 and the bonus a decent but unnecessary cover, this was always destined to be a solid 7/10 album from a solid band on their tenth full length studio release. A more pivotal album would have been welcome, but this isn't going to disappoint the fans.