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.