In a blind taste test, this sounded like the album Clive Davis probably wished Kelly Clarkson had made heavy rock with radio choruses straight out of Breakaway casting central. And sure enough, there's not a song on this 14-song collection that parenthetically escapes Desmond Child's involvement and more than a few feature an ex-Hooter (Eric Bazillian) for the added estrogen factor. That means lots of writing by committee no less than four collaborators at any time. This is a totally reinvented Scorpions which makes sense because, in this day and age, only rappers could get away with the sexism that was once these horny Krauts' stock in trade. And putting that muted Smell the Glove dynamic behind them results in such new sensitive lyrics as "I couldn't be the one to love you the way that you deserve to be," which you blindly hope were simply phonetically translated to Klaus Meine, still the greatest singer to make English sound foreign since ABBA proposed that "the wiener takes it all."
The good news is that the best of the ballads (yes, ballads!), "The Future Never Days" and "Humanity," sound like the poignant stuff Freddie Mercury was churning out when he had less than a year to live. And the worst of 'em sound like Ricky Martin, a guy who Desmond made a mint off already (and, coincidentally, also couldn't sing certain English words so you could understand them). Make no mistake about it: These guys want back on the radio and will get there via sheer craft and force of will. On the punchy, crunchy and munchy "The Cross," they even enlist guest vocalist Billy Corgan! The irony, of course, is that they probably will achieve their shallow aim and get baldy boy on the radio faster than a Smashing Pumpkins resurrection ever will. File under "Meine Comforting!"
Serene Dominic writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.