Sound — 6
Ever since their breakthrough third album, the platinum-status "15," Buckcherry have been one of the big names leading the charge of modern day hard rock. But of course, a lot has changed in that near decade for the world of rock music, and though Buckcherry and their hard rock peers are ones to pride themselves for dealing rock music in the way it "should" sound, the sub-genre has been dwindling in the shadows of the amorphous and expanding indie rock, as well as the trendier blues rock revival. In spite of the changing times, however, Buckcherry have stuck to their hard rock guns, and their recent releases have attempted to spice things up via conceptual efforts. Their sixth album, "Confessions," thematically based itself on the Seven Sins, and their first release on their own label F-Bomb Records, the "F--k" EP, sophomorically harped on the f-word for every song.
The conceptual streak has come to an end, though, and for their seventh album, Buckcherry have gone with the rudimentary title of "Rock 'n' Roll." Perhaps one can consider it being a thematic choice of going back to basics, though when taking into account that Buckcherry have never been ones to throw a lot of sonic curveballs, that analysis doesn't really stick. But though much of the album meets its face value expectations (from the country-tinged rocker "Wood" and power ballad "The Feeling Never Dies," to the Mötley Crüe and AC/DC homages heard in "The Madness" and "Get With It"), Buckcherry do make an effort to mix things up a bit in terms of sound, more so than what has been heard in previous albums. The guitars in the more alt-rocky "Wish to Carry On" bear a hint of Weezer flavor to them, the horn sections in "Tight Pants" pay a stylistic nod to The Miami Horns (recruited by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, and others), and "Rain's Falling" shows the band taking a stark blues route, which, while pretty simple in terms of its composition, makes for a fresher slow jam heard from the band in a while.
Lyrics — 4
With the past few albums, frontman Josh Todd has gone back and forth between demeanors when writing his lyrics, from the more serious bouts (heard in "Confessions" and "Black Butterfly") and the more jocular (heard in "15" and "All Night Long"). Continuing with this pattern, Todd's lyrics in "Rock 'n' Roll" primarily flaunt his lewd side - much more blatantly than in previous albums, but with the elementary sexual themes of "Bring It On Back," "Tight Pants," "Wood," "Sex Appeal" and "Get With It" all blurring together in homogeneity, it generally comes off as repetitive.
Todd fans out in subject matter with the other handful of songs, but these topics are also repeats from previous Buckcherry songs, rendering the lyrical side of "Rock 'n' Roll" staler than the music side. The post-modern critique of "Cradle" is a weaker sibling to the "All Night Long" song "Our World," the channeling power of anger portrayed in "The Madness" falls in the same territory as the "Confessions" song "Wrath," and both the ballads of "The Feeling Never Dies" and "Rain's Falling," which cover the matters of weathered relationships and yearning desire, respectively, are both topics that have been used for previous Buckcherry power ballads, like in "Carousel" or "I Want You."
Overall Impression — 5
"Rock 'n' Roll" makes itself to be a love letter for the classic sound and raunchy disposition of rock music, but it doesn't mask nor wholly justify the fact that it still mainly shows Buckcherry traveling down the same beaten path that they've been on throughout their career. Buckcherry can still dish out their brand of hard rock decently, and the few occasions of variance in sound found in the album bear proof that they're capable of branching out, but overall, they'll need to do more to really regain freshness. For now, "Rock 'n' Roll" ultimately continues the band's streak of steady and staid hard rock, for better or for worse.