Album Score: 8
Agh, Foreigner! Why do they have to be so tame? They are classified as hard rock on Wikipedia, but they don't seem to rock out very much. My guess is they were trying to combine hard rock with pop music in order to gain the appreciation of a wider audience. Obviously, that little scheme of theirs worked since this was one of the hot sellers of 1977, and somehow their fame lingers on 30+ years later. It's funny that I have a tendency to agree with the public sentiments when it comes to music, but not in this case. Foreigner weren't particularly good at rocking, and they weren't a particularly good pop band. In other words, there's nothing that I can possibly do with a band like this except deport them from my stereo. (Oh! I'm filled to the brim with bad puns!)
It's obvious they had some talent lurking in their midsts. One of the founding members, Ian McDonald, had been in the original line-up of King Crimson, which I hope we all know put out one of the greatest albums ever released. Another founding guitarist, Mick Jones, was a member of the early '70s incarnations of Spooky Tooth. I don't know much about Spooky Tooth other than they have one of the most notoriously bad band names, but they had a reputation of some sort! And then the lead singer, Lou Gram, had no reputation at all. He was previously lead singer of a band called Black Sheep that doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. As we all know, anything that doesn't have a Wikipedia page is unimportant. Including me.
And it's not like this is such a crap album. It's just frustratingly mediocre. Writing the track reviews particularly in the second half wasn't such an easy task, I hate to say. I typically just sat through the songs, thinking “Wow, this song isn't bad—it's just entirely standard and mediocre” and then struggled to try to come up with something to write about it. The first side at least had a few hits on it, and a really weird sci-fi ballad, so I at least had an angle. The non hits, and the non sci-fi ballads are just standard fare. Not bad, and not good.
The hits! Unless you're from 1977 and bought hit records, you probably only recognize “Feels Like the First Time” from being featured in a billion commercials over the years. It's a cute little power-ballad that has a nice 'n' catchy little melody. In keeping with the general spirit of this album, it doesn't rock out much at all, and the melody (especially in the verses section) falls pretty flat. But at least their power ballad formula provided us with a fitfully memorable ditty. However, “Cold as Ice,” which continues to be popular enough to be heard on the classic rock radio from time to time, is arguably the best song of the lot. It's a Billy-Joel-style piano ballad that begins with a dull bouncy piano and proceeds to deliver a rather catchy melody. It's not one of my favorite staples of classic rock radio, but at least it's better than hearing Styx's “Come Sail Away” played for the 100,000,000 time.
“Starrider” is the sci-fi ballad that's just weird, overblown, and a bit tedious. It's amazes me that someone from King Crimson could have been involved with it. That's by far the most creative track on the album, and it sounds like something a high school band would come up with. It has it all: echoey vocals, cheesy synthesizers, wannabe 'epic' drumming. Sometimes I can get caught up in seriously cheesy songs like that as long as it's more or less self-aware of its own cheesiness and thus can be construed as humorous. But this is as serious as ever, and they're just boring with it. Why does it exist, then?
Most of the rest of the songs are dull rockers and bland power ballads. The one notable exception is the glam rocker “Long, Long Way From Home,” which seems to pick up a little bit of dust. I think the only reason I like it is because of those swinging saxophones they subtly work into the groove in its second half. How did they know that I liked swinging saxophones? Anyway, that little touch was what pushed it over the edge for me enough to call it the second best song of the album.
While this album has some good songs on it, it's an overall flaccid experience. The guitars don't rock out enough, the rhythm sections are dull, and the melodies are flat. All in all, it's just too clean, which goes completely against the stereotype that foreigners never shower. It's weird that so many copies of an album that aims so low were sold... but then again, I guess that's all the public wanted. They didn't want to listen to Residents albums, I guess. I know, hard to imagine!
Read the track reviews:
Double Vision (1978)
Album Score: 8
Foreigner were good for a lot of things. Most of all, it was sucking. But at least they could come out with noble hits from time to time, and Double Vision has two of them: the title track and “Hot Blooded.” The rest of the songs range from OK to ones that make me want to slowly commit suicide by standing in the middle of a driving range.
Let's start this review on a positive note, since that's usually how the world likes to hear things. “Hot Blooded” is altogether a pretty good song. It has a nice chugging rhythm, a catchy riff and an OK melody. It is the sort of song I hear all the time in grocery stores, and I think to myself “Well, at least they're not playing Spandau Ballet!” (All in all, a very positive thing for me to think.) Other than its catchy riff and OK melody, it has nothing else really going for it. It's pure pap from beginning to end.
Anyway, you probably already know if you like “Hot Blooded.” If it's among the best song that you've ever heard, then you should run right to the record store and get Double Vision, because you'll probably be able to bear the rest of these songs without wanting to slit your wrists. They get even more pap after that. Especially that ballad “You're All I Am.” That song is a poop sandwich. But I'm not going to talk about it yet. I still need to talk about the other good song in Double Vision.
The other good song is the one that goes “Fill my eyes! With that douuuuble visssssssion!” ...I'm not exactly sure what they mean by “filling your eyes with double vision,” but that goes to show it's probably not very healthy to think too hard about Foreigner lyrics. That is a solidly written, well put-together song. If that was the only song I've heard from Foreigner, I might actually have assumed that they were a good band. I'm sure you've all heard it on the radio. It's catchy, and a lot of fun. The lyrics suck, but that's not anything out-of-the-ordinary for classic rock radio.
Alright, now let's talk about “You're All I Am.” Not only is it a dead dull piano ballad, but it has such a horrific melody that I literally hate my life when I listen to it. (Literally!) I mean, how many minutes did they spend writing that melody? How much brain power did they use to figure out this clunky instrumentation? Did they even try? What's the point of writing music if it's going to be stupid and boring like that? (Oh! Profit!) The only positive thing I can say about it is that it's not quite as soul-sucking as Styx's “Babe.” I can also say that about listening to people fart in public restrooms. It's also nice that Lou Gramm is refreshingly non-irritating as a singer.
“Blue Morning, Blue Day” is a nicely written piano pop song along the lines of Billy Joel, except Billy Joel does them better. The melody isn't particularly memorable, but at least it's rather fun to listen to. “Back to Where You Belong” is a boring power ballad that is a total time-waster, but at least it is inoffensive. “Love Has Taken Its Toll” is a frustratingly ordinary rocker that I've completely forgotten about already. “Tramotine” is a synth-heavy instrumental whose main redeeming quality is I get a break from having to bear through their stupid lyrics. I actually rather like “Lonely Children,” though; if these guys had testicles, that song might have been turned into a great, butt-whomping heavy metal anthem. But as it is, it's merely adequate. This album has a closing song, but I don't care enough to talk about it.
All in all, Foreigner's sophomore album is a pretty dull and lifeless affair. It does have two good songs on it, and I'd say that it's a little better produced than the debut. But that's about it. I spent a lot of time listening to this album over the years, and I regret to say that I have yet to get over my raging xenophobia.
Read the track reviews:
Head Games (1979)
Album Score: 8
Through the years that I've been listening to Foreigner's discography, I've consistently pinpointed Head Games as the best Foreigner album. (Except I haven't listened to their '90s albums yet, but I've sampled them, and they look pretty grim.) Even as I'm listening to Head Games right now, I wouldn't deny that it sports a fitfully strong conglomeration of melodies. What's more, they've adopted a somewhat harder and grittier tone to their guitars, which is a move that I wholeheartedly endorse. While their guitars are still not as awesome as, say, Judas Priest, it's a small step up from the wuss-rock sound that had characterized Double Vision and their eponymous debut.
My opinion of Head Games as being the best Foreigner album, might strike a few people as peculiar; this is the only album they've cut from 1977 to 1984 to not have any extremely recognizable hits on it. Sure, I wouldn't be surprised if a classic radio rock station somewhere in the Midwest treats their audience to a smattering of “Dirty White Boy” or the title track from time to time, but neither of those songs are as immediately recognizable as, say, “Double Vision” or “Urgent.” In addition to nothing from Head Games being well-integrated into society, I'll also say that nothing here is quite as good as the best stuff from Double Vision or 4.
So, why do I think this is the best Foreigner album? Simply because there is relatively little that pisses me off about it. If for whatever reason you want to listen to a Foreigner album in its entirety, and you don't particularly want to get angry with it, then Head Games is probably your best bet. But then there's that issue I raised in a Led Zeppelin review that I wrote recently: Would you rather listen to an album with some great moments and some horrible moments, or would you rather listen to an album with no great moments but no horrible moments? I count myself in the former camp. I didn't used to, but I do now.
Thus, in reality, I no longer think Head Games is the best Foreigner album even though I continue to recognize it sports a few considerable sonic improvements from their previous albums. The worst songs in Head Games aren't quite as soul-sucking as the worst songs from Double Vision, but where are the strong, radio-friendly singles “Double Vision,” “Hot Blooded,” “Cold As Ice,” “Feels Like the First Time” or “Long, Long Away From Home?” The best thing this album has is the opener “Dirty White Boy,” which is fine, but it lacks stamina. “Love on the Telephone” is a power ballad that sounds nice (don't get used to it) with a well-written melody, but it's mostly forgettable. “I'll Get Even With You” sounds more like The Cars than it does Foreigner, which probably explains why I like it.
I used to really like the upbeat folk-rocker “Do What You Like,” but I listen to it now mostly unimpressed. It's lighthearted and fun, a tone that I wish these ultra-serious jerks would adopt more often, but that melody is so repetitive that it starts to get stale by the time it's over. I also used to like the faux-'50s rocker “Women” for that snarly guitar tone they introduce at the beginning. While I still like that guitar tone, I find the rest of the song comes off as terribly stale.
And those were songs I liked! The rest of the stuff on here is mediocre. There's the cheeze-rock wannabe anthems “Seventeen” and “Head Games” both containing dumb chorus. There's the so-ridiculously-overblown-that-it's-rather-amusing power-ballad “Blinded By Science.” And then there's the wussy synth-rock “Rev on the Red Line” with one of the most retarded two-note riffs that I've ever had the displeasure of listening to. ...But even though these songs all have their shortcomings, I swear to you, none of that rivals the smelly crap that we were subject to in Double Vision. That is, unless you have the edition of this album with the bonus track. Do yourself a favor and don't get that version. You don't want it. If you happen to defy my wishes and do get the bonus track version of Head Games, then just make sure there aren't any frying pans in your immediate vicinity; you'll be a danger to yourself and others around you.
In concussion, Head Games is one of the most consistent Foreigner albums. They more or less seemed like they had it together. But why doesn't it have any of those memorable radio-friendly hits like we're used to? ......AND WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THAT ALBUM COVER? WHAT WON'T YOU DO TO SELL ALBUMS?????
Read the track reviews:
Album Score: 8
Even though this is the fourth Foreigner album in a row that I gave the exact same rating to, this is slightly different than the others. It was a new decade, and the gods of rock 'n' roll decreed that every rock 'n' roll band must incorporate strong synthesizer sounds in their work. Foreigner didn't want to be smote, so they gracefully complied. They even hired a world class producer by the name of Robert John "Mutt" Lange to help them with this task. The result is easily the cleanest and most polished Foreigner album ever released. Unfortunately, Foreigner's patented brand of bland songwriting didn't improve at all, so in the end, what was old Mutty polishing? Air.
But this album isn't all bad. It starts out with “Night Life,” which sports a nice, flashy riff. I could complain that the melody is so dull that Lou Gramm could have been making it up on the spot, but I won't because the riff distracts me well enough from it. That's also a great place to witness how well this sucker is produced. Those guitars manage to sound both gritty and polished at the same time, and the result is utterly delectable! I also love how well they incorporated those clean synthesizers in the mix. Really, that's quite a piece of work. It's just a shame that it is such a ho-hum song.
“Juke Box Hero” is one of those radio hits that you don't completely recognize until the chorus pipes up. The verses are entirely bland, devoid of melody or passion. Sometimes that works well for '80s pop music, but I also happen to think that the chorus is pretty stupid. It's slow paced, plodding, and a bore to sit through. Seriously, you're going to invest in the services of a world-class producer and you don't even bother to write better songs for the occasion? ...Well I guess this album sold more than six million copies. ...Good old capitalism.
“Urgent” is *the* album's shiniest example of the high level of production present on here. Those pulsating guitars and synthesizers are completely hypnotizing! They hypnotize me so much that I almost forget that Lou Gramm sings another melody that sounds like he's making it up on the spot. But at least it has a chorus that's somewhat memorable. ...It's just two notes, so it's pretty easy to remember.
The rest of these songs weren't hits, and they really aren't worth mentioning. I don't want to say their attempt at a ballad (“Waiting For a Girl Like You”) was pathetic, because I can still recall vividly what Styx's “Babe” sounds like, but it's one of those corny and bland '80s love ballads that the world wants to forget more than it wants to forget the mullet. “Luanne” is such a simple rocker that it's almost graceful, but listening to how bland and boringly performed that is, I have to wonder why they wanted to get into the music business in the first place. Drugs and syphilis? There are five other songs in this album, but I'll let the track reviews take care of those. Thank God for the track reviews.
To conclude, I don't think there's anything of particular value with 4. Apart from a few dumb, simplistic choruses, this album is entirely forgettable. Even the hits weren't that good. Can someone play “Urgent” on the piano for me and make it sound good? I doubt it.
Read the track reviews:
Agent Provocateur (1984)
Album Score: 7
If I didn't hate this band before, I hate them now. I WANT TO PUT LOU GRAMM'S MAGGOT INFESTED HEAD IN A GARBAGE DISPOSAL!!! ...Oh, anger management. I'd better settle down, or some court somewhere is going to make me start going to classes. It was bad enough that they were mediocre-to-bad rock stars in the late '70s, but they were even worse at being mediocre-to-bad rock stars in the '80s. I don't know why, but synthesizers and power drums seem to magnify mediocrity.
Surprisingly, they managed pull out one classic, “That Was Yesterday.” I had to blink my ears one or two times to make sure I wasn't hallucinating, but I've come to the conclusion that is a great song. It's perfect for '80s movie montage music. It has a deeply pounding bass, perfectly produced plasticy synths, and Lou Gramm's convincing glamor-boy vocals soaring all over the place in a thankfully more restrained manner than Mr. “Eye of the Tiger” Robin McAuley. Most importantly, it has a melody that I love listening to. Lucky me, I wrote a review of this album five years ago, and I thought the same thing about it. So, if that is not a good song, then I suppose I'm crazy for life. ...Never mind that I'm already pretty sure that I'm crazy for life...
Although that wasn't the major hit off the album. That honor goes to the teenage love anthem “I Want to Know What Love Is,” which is vulture vomit. Its verses section seems to plod along forever at the most mind-numbing pace they could have conceivably mustered, and it all leads up to this gospely chorus that's supposed to be “uplifting” but all it makes me want to do is uplift Lou Gramm's head off his shoulders and throw it off a balcony. It is without a doubt one of the least convincing teenage anthems that ever existed.
Some of the supporting, non-hit ditties are OK. “Tooth and Nail” is an exciting enough of a song with crunchy guitars and loud '80s drums. “Growing Up the Hard Way” is an even dumber rocker, but I can't deny that it also musters up a rhythm that prompts my toe to start tapping. Pretty much everything else totally blows. I sit through this album frequently bored out of my mind, and I can do nothing else but continue to wonder why these guys wanted to be rock stars in the first place. I mean, what's the point of having a career in the creative arts if you don't want to be creative? I know, I know, that's a stupid question to ask and maybe a bit existential, and Foreigner were hardly the worst offenders in '80s pop rock. They were among the worst, but I can personally attest that there is '80s pop music out there that's so bad it'll blow out your brain.
Other songs sound like they might have been OK, but the ball was dropped somewhere. The synth-heavy power ballad “Down on Love” has convincing “heavy” instrumentation and a vaguely likable melody. I could see where more inspired songwriters would have taken that song and let it shine somewhere, but Foreigner seemed more content with just letting it plod along and never letting it go anywhere. “A Love in Vain” kind of has nice bubbly synthesizers in the intro, but then I lose all interest in it the moment those power-ballad drums pipe up.
And then there are the really bad songs, such as the sterile soul-sucking “Reaction to Action,” which almost makes me hate living, and the hopelessly bland and plodding “Two Different Worlds” that's so boring that it literally loses my interest the first second Lou Gramm starts to sing. That must be some kind of record.
So here's the score. One excellent song, “That Was Yesterday.” One good song, “Tooth and Nail.” And one decent song, “Growing Up the Hard Way.” Shove the rest up Lou Gramm's stupid butt. (Apologies for the uncharacteristically violent imagery strewn throughout this review. You know, I just want to look cool.)
Read the track reviews:
Inside Information (1987)
Album Score: 6
As Foreigner sunk more deeply into the '80s, their career started to sink badly. This album is even more bland than the last one, and at least the last one had a pretty nice hit on it, “That Was Yesterday.” The best these guys could do for Inside Information was “Say You Will.”
“Say You Will” has an OK melody that would just barely hold up on any Best of Foreigner compilation. By far the biggest disappointment of that song, and the rest of this album for that matter, is that the instrumentation is so dang bland. I mean, didn't I praise 4 slightly for being instrumented nicely? What happened? That is the typical, toneless keyboard nonsense that plagued the radio in the '80s. At first the bouncy keyboards and guitars in the chorus are sort of fun, but it doesn't take too long for that to have fully run its course in my brain and start getting dull too.
Good thing this album is pretty inoffensive and kept at a reasonable 44-minute running length, so it's easy for the listener to check out and not really pay attention. But if you're going to do that, then why not conserve energy and just listen to dead air? You'll not only save your eardrums some wear and tare, but you'd also do a little bit to save the world from Global Warming! Or you could just say screw the world and let it go down in flames with some Black Sabbath. Now we're talking.
“I Don't Want to Live Without You” was one of the album's hits, and it shows that people from 1987 were really into the dullest ballads imaginable. That song doesn't have a melody to speak of, and its instrumentation is nothing but late '80s ultra-polished adult contemporary nonsense. You already know what it sounds like without actually listening to it. They tried one other ballad in this album, “Out of the Blue,” and it's even worse; as each second of that song goes by the bland guitars, dead drum beat, and toneless melody start to eat at my brain like an acid. The only way to spare yourself from its wrath is to not listen to it. Or if you're listening to it, put your fingers in your ears. ...The horrendous quality of these ballads is why Foreigner should just stick to the rockers. They might be entirely bland and generic, but at least they give me an excuse to tap my foot. Usually.
The slick opening song, “Heart Turns to Stone” is definitely one of the better generic rockers... If you're feeling adventurous, you can close your eyes when you listen to it, and imagine a Rocky-style montage. It's perfect for that. “Counting Every Minute” probably isn't slick enough for a Rocky montage, but it's good for a sort of smoky-bar-with-mullet-headed-bikers montage. Hell yeah! And then there was some sort of attempt at teen-pop, “Face to Face,” which steals the bass-line from “Material Girl.” That's a nice bass-line, and that's pretty much the only thing about the song that engages my ear, so steal away!
The worst song on the album is without question the title track, which as far as I'm concerned handily steals the “Bad '80s Electrogarbage” title away from Phil Collins' “Sussudio.” It's not only a poorly written song, but it just depresses me. How could musicians in the decade I was born in have written such crap? Ugh, I knew I wasn't expecting anything great out of Foreigner in the first place, but I at least thought they were beyond stuff like that.
In conclusion, this album is awful, and I would only buy it if I were a rich millionaire who liked to squander his wealth on useless things. Inside Information is pretty much the reason everyone says that the late '80s were the nadir of pop music. Well... I've actually listened to solo-Styx albums and some of those were worse, but Foreigner's Inside Information is definitely in that class.
Read the track reviews:
Unusual Heat (1991)
Album Score: 7
It was the '90s and the gods of rock 'n' roll permitted formerly awesome '70s bands to return to their guitar rock origins... (or in Foreigner's case, formerly sucky '70s bands). However, Foreigner's transition out of the '80s wasn't that abrupt; they were still relying heavy on formulaic power ballads and those loud-ass stadium drums. At least they toned down the keyboards. Whenever you hear them, they're either so faint that you can barely make them out or they're more hardened electric pianos. (I didn't like their bland synthesizer tones all that much in their '80s albums, but the lack of keyboards did make a few of these power ballads seem under-orchestrated. Not that orchestrating them more would have helped matters, because they still would have sucked.)
Unfortunately for Foreigner, and bands like them, they were universally considered dinosaurs by the '90s, which means that there was no way that Unusual Heat was going to generate any mass appeal. This thing only made it to #117 on the charts, which was so much of a fizzle that it probably made their mothers cry. Some critics blame this album's commercial failure over the fact that lead singer Lou Gramm was not present for it, but I'm telling you that he wouldn't have helped at all. The only people who cared about Foreigner's original guitar-rock were people from the '70s who had just undergone a decade of keyboard-driven disillusionment. Newly emerged music fans didn't get this album, because they were well aware from perusing their father's music collection that Foreigner sucked. (By the way Lou Gramm was replaced with the similar sounding Johnny Edwards. I didn't even notice it was somebody else singing until I read that on Wikipedia. I suppose Edwards can't hit some of the notes as well as Gramm, but they're both pretty dastardly.)
This album sucks, too, and in all the usual ways. This is a lot like their '70s albums except it doesn't have any definitive show-stopping hits on it. Sure, there are one or two songs that come close to that (namely “Moment of Truth” and the title track), but they don't quite make it enough to give me the desire to listen to them again after completing this review. “Moment of Truth” uses a generic but somewhat catchy riff, and its chorus generates some steam. The title track easily has the album's best melody, but even that's a far cry from their “Cold as Ice” glory days. Other than those two, the songs range from bland toe-tappers to forgettable power ballads.
The opening song, “Only Heaven Knows” is a good early indication of how lame this album is. It's a completely forgettable but mildly enjoyable polished guitar rocker with lead vocals that are boringly over-sung. Need I say anything else about that? The second song “Low Down and Dirty” is a similar story... Anyone but the most strident fans of '90s guitar-rock from middle-aged men would like these. The rest of us would just yawn.
That said, an album full of forgettable but mildly enjoyable toe-tapping guitar rockers like those should be enough to earn an album an 8, but there was a bit of a surprising over-reliance of power-ballads here. Five of these 11 songs fit that bill. The only one that doesn't bore me to tears is “When the Night Comes Down,” which has a surprisingly energetic chorus. But let's pass on the others.
I'm not sure who to recommend this album to, if anyone. I suppose if you thought I was being rather pigheaded when reviewing their classic '70s albums and you really like their guitar-rock sound, then you might give this a whirl if the mood strikes you. But with the lack of clear hits on it like “Double Vision” and “Cold as Ice,” I doubt even their most faithful fans would find too many occasions to play this. (And their most strident of fans are probably too disappointed over the absence of Gramm........ that I didn't initially notice.) Only get this if you can find it dirt cheap somewhere, if you have to get it at all.
Read the track reviews:
Mr. Moonlight (1994)
Album Score: 6
Oh praise to the heavens, Lou Gramm is back on the roster! Whoever that guy was singing on Unusual Heat was a decent stadium-rock vocalist, but nobody can cheese it up quite like good old Lou Gramm. Particularly in this album's plentiful adult-contemporary power ballads.
First and foremost, Foreigner wanted to update their sound for the '90s, and more than half of these songs were mass manufactured for the radio. One song, “Until the End of Time” even managed to make an impact on the adult-contemporary top-10 chart. However, this album itself charted poorly, only making it to a dismal #136. Their fall from grace from the consistent Top 5 position on the charts can be blamed partly because they were considered a dinosaur act in the '90s. But you also can't overlook the fact that everything on here is godawful.
Without a doubt, this album's highlight is the opener “Under the Gun,” one of Foreigner's signature arena-rockers, and I'm sure many of the fans would agree with that. However, there is nothing particularly special about it. I've heard a billion songs like it before with its manufactured melody, over-sung vocals, and polished guitars that were given a “snarly” sound. While I might not find it impressive, it's dumb fun, and at least it isn't one of the adult contemporary songs.
Some of the adult-contemporary songs are more crappy than others, but it's all crap deep down to its core. “Rain” is one of the more edible adult contemporary songs of the album, and it's entirely forgettable featuring a bland riff, an airy melody, and a stupid bass guitar that plays plodding eighth-notes. “All I Need to Know” is another one of this album's highlights, and it's a bland piece of boringness whose main feature is that it doesn't make me want to die.
“Until the End of Time,” the song that charted, is one of the most miserable songs that I ever heard. The lite-rock drum machine beat is right out of some stupid Phil Collins song, and Gramm over sings a soul-sucking melody in a manner similarly to Michael Bolton. Blech. I mean, Bolton was way worse than this, but I figured Gramm had enough dignity to stay away from those shark-infested waters. “Real World” is a less crappy power ballad, but that is like saying that tiger crap is better than elephant crap. It's awful. Don't even bother with it.
Of all the songs here, the one I'd say I liked the least is “I Keep Hoping,” which is reminiscent of one of Mariah Carey's fake-gospel songs except it's way worse. However, I will grant you that I find it amusing that Lou Gramm would try to sing such a song, particularly at the 3:35 mark when he hits a really high note. I will say he sings that high note pretty well, and whoever came in the studio and kicked him in the gonads had great timing.
By far, the most distinguished song of the album is “Big Dog,” which consists of somebody growling over some bland though gruff riffage. If it were a Spinal Tap song, I would have undoubtedly found it hilarious especially since the lyrics are so juvenile. I still find it hilarious coming out of Foreigner, however, and thus the song earns distinction as my second favorite track of the album.
In conclusion, I don't like this, and I don't think you will either. However, I didn't like any of their classic albums either, and if you disagree with me on that point venomously, then perhaps this miserable piece of plastic is your thing. I will say that Foreigner were a polished and professional band, and this comes across as smoother and more digestible than their first two albums. As for me, I get tired of this album shortly after it starts playing; this was a band that couldn't write an original melody to save their lives, and everything on here is over-sung and generically written.
Read the track reviews:
Can't Slow Down (2009)
Album Score: 4
I'm disappointed! Foreigner had been living a mightily comfortable existence being one of those bands that hadn't released an album since 1994, and then they had to go and break that golden streak of nothingness by releasing Can't Slow Down in 2009. Not that I would normally care if a band like Foreigner decides to release an album after a 15-year absence; I would have just smirked and then promptly went about my life forgetting that it existed. But unfortunately, I decided to invest myself in analyzing Foreigner's discography some time ago—before this album was even a glint in the milkman's eye—and now I am required to sit through it. I have it figured out; Foreigner made this album deliberately to punish me. They didn't like my review of Double Vision and so they set out to make an album I would like even worse. That's right, my reviews are influential like that.
This was released exclusively through Wal-Mart, which is reason #1 why this album is lame. Reason #2 is these songs are stupid. Every single one of these melodies are instantly forgettable, and the production plastic and dull. Of course these guys were never exactly the creative types, but they at least used to write music that had some sort of edge to them. That is, if you agree that “Urgent” and “Double Vision” had an edge to them. (They were catchy! That's “edge” enough for me.) This is an incredibly tedious album to sit through. I sat through it three times, and it feels like I had a lobotomy.
The songs are split into two categories: rockers and ballads. There are a lot of ballads in here, which is reason #3 why this album is lame. More than that, these ballads sound like Diane Warren wrote them. That is just about the worst insult that I can hurl at the ballad. They're completely banal and have canned melodies. And this new lead singer is even worse than Michael Bolton. Who is this guy anyway? His name is Kelly Hansen. There's no personality whatsoever in his voice. At least Bolton makes me want to punch his lights out whenever I'd hear him sing. This guy just sucks the life out of the room.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Foreigner is best at home when they just concentrated on pure rockers. Their melodies are just as stupid as the ballads', but they at least have fast-moving drums that diverts my attention away from the melodies. The one song that almost seems good to me is “Ready,” which features a tightly played riff. The other rockers are more heavy sounding, closer to that classic AOR sound. Except they don't even come close, here, to writing anything even remotely as good as one of their AOR hits.
A few of these songs start out like they're going to be fun, but it promptly becomes lame as soon as Hansen starts to sing. “Lonely” is the album's best example of this, which starts out with a Latin-inspired synth loop. If that song were only 10 seconds long, it might have been good. But, no. Interestingly, they decided to record a new version of “Fool For You Anyway,” which is a song lifted from their debut album. I hated that song when I reviewed that album, but in Can't Slow Down, it's not half bad! It's by far the closest thing this album has got to a real song. That is, unless you bother to listen to the other CD this album came with where you're treated to remixed versions of their greatest hits. Blah.
In conclusion, this is a terrible album. I know calling Foreigner sell-outs would be meaningless, because they've been sell-outs from the very beginning, but holy hell! Foreigner are a bunch of sell-outs! This album is so bad that it makes me want to listen to Lou Gramm solo albums. I've completely lost my will to live.
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