Released: Dec 3, 2013
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Frontiers Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
Classic rock icons Boston are back with their first new studio album in eleven years. But is there any way it can possibly live up to its expectations?
Life, Love & HopeFeatured review by: UG Team, on december 09, 2013 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Boston are one of rock's most treasured groups. Their debut studio album completely changed the way we all looked at and played rock music, which included the band's monumental hits "More Than a Feeling," "Peace of Mind" and "Smokin'." Lead guitarist and main songwriter Tom Scholz's futuristic guitar tone stole the attention of those listeners who also manned the six strings, and would go on to become one of Boston's defining qualities. 37 years following the release of their self-titled debut, and Boston are back with their sixth studio album "Life, Love & Hope." It's been a staggering eleven years since their last offering, 2002's independently released "Corporate America," but of course much has gone on within the Boston camp during this period of time, including the death of original lead vocalist Brad Delp. Still, work on the band's long awaited sixth album has been ongoing since 2003, leaving high expectations from Boston's dedicated fan base.
The album's opening number "Heaven on Earth" is probably the strongest track off of the new album, with bold guitar playing and solid vocal melodies giving the song an unignorable classic vibe. But for the majority of "Life, Love & Hope," it appears Tom Scholz is trying far too hard to recreate the band's earlier hits, especially when it comes to such songs as the album's title track and "Someday." The latter of the two includes a randomly implemented harmonica solo, which I'm guessing was supposed to hark back to Boston's debut album, but in reality does little to benefit the rest of the piece. One of the more negative sides to this new album is that "Life, Love & Hope" includes three songs previously released on Boston's last studio effort. The first, "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love," has been remastered, but bears very few differences to that of the original version.
"Someone (2.0)" and "You Gave Up on Love (2.0)" are, as the titles imply, re-recorded versions of songs which similarly were included on "Corporate America." These two songs do slightly triumph over the original renditions, however for a long time fan such as myself who already enjoyed "Corporate America" and patiently waited eleven years for a new Boston album, the fact that over a fourth of this effort is comprised of songs I'm already familiar with is difficult to look past. That doesn't mean "Life, Love & Hope" is without its brighter moments, for example the upbeat instrumental "Last Day of School" which allows Scholz to take charge. Unfortunately, there are more downsides as opposed to upsides when it comes to this effort, and in many ways falls way below my expectations for this album. // 6
Lyrics: "Life, Love & Hope" features a rotating cast of lead vocalists, including the late Brad Delp, Kimberley Dahme, Tommy DeCarlo, David Victor, and Louis St. August. With such a cast of singers, one would expect some dynamic vocal melodies and explosive choruses; unfortunately, this is only the case on the album's opening track "Heaven on Earth," while the rest of the album is heavily comprised of frankly bland sounding harmonies. The lyrics which used to be one of Boston's most prominent qualities have similarly become incredibly simplistic on "Life, Love & Hope." As an example of some of the lyrics, here is the chorus from "Someday": "I don't care what they could say/ it's gone on far too long/ it just ain't fair when they act that way/ someday they'll see the right from wrong." // 6
Overall Impression: While I'm glad to see Boston finally return with their first new effort in eleven years, "Life, Love & Hope," between the album's dull vocal harmonies and simplistic lyrics I have to say that the album does fall below expectations. Considering the fact that this is Boston, and especially considering this effort comes after over a decade in the making, one would come to expect something of a higher caliber than what have here on "Life, Love & Hope." Still, there are enough enjoyable moments to recommend this album to both dedicated and familiar Boston fans. // 6