Bon Jovi's career has been defined by optimism since its leader, the ever-affable Jon Bon Jovi, hustled his way onto New York rock radio in the early ’80s, with songs like “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Keep the Faith” serving as shout-along anthems. On Forever, the New Jersey band's 16th album, the band's outlook remains bright—although this go-round, marking their 40th anniversary, they're celebrating themselves, too. “In the last decade, it's been hard to find joy for a lot of reasons; there's a lot of joy in this,” Bon Jovi tells Apple Music's Zane Lowe. Personal and global challenges—the departure of long-time guitarist Richie Sambora, the pandemic, vocal cord issues that resulted in experimental surgery for the lead singer—weighed heavily. “It was a decade in the making because of that: trials and tribulations. I don't want to sound pompous about it, but talk to me about a career after 20. And when you get to 40, now we can start talking about this for real.” Forever is a loud and proud shedding of those troubles, 12 tracks that honour and burnish their legacy as one of the MTV era's hugest rock bands. Opening track “Legendary” turns the doubt that hovered over the band into a reason for celebration, finding reasons to “raise my hands up to the sky” in old songs and old friends—and in the act of being alive. “Living Proof” harkens back to talk-box-assisted Bon Jovi jams of yore like “Livin' on a Prayer” in chugging sound and unyielding spirit, with Jon Bon Jovi, his voice a little huskier but still unmistakable, wondering, “Is there anything left for a sinner like me?” and realising the answer is right under his own roof. Perhaps appropriately given the album's name, Forever finds Bon Jovi getting a little meta, reflecting on their individual and collective journeys. “We Made It Look Easy” is a charging anthem that calls back to the days when the band was “chasing the dawn/Getting lost in a song,” while “I Wrote You a Song” is a slow-blooming ballad that'll have arena audiences raising their lighters, or their phone flashlights. “My First Guitar”, a sparkling power-pop track, is an ode to the instrument on which Jon Bon Jovi cut his teeth, a story inspired by him actually retrieving it—still in its cardboard case—from the New Jersey neighbour who bought it years ago. Its romanticism—“She's the only one who knows the way I feel,” he croons—underscores just how passionate Bon Jovi and his bandmates still are about music four-plus decades into their storied career. “Nobody wants to go through the dark periods to get to the light,” he tells Apple Music. “But when you get to the light, it's even more joyous.”

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