By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
10:34 a.m. First listen, track 5. There's very little that I find immediately likable or unlikable about 11. There are certainly optimistic moments; "I Thought I'd Seen Everything" has hints of Springsteenian triumph, and the intro for the current track, "We Found What We Were Looking For," is sonically reminiscent of U2's similarly titled "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Unfortunately, both tracks digress into by-the-book adult-contemporary productions by the first chorus.
11:44 a.m. Second listen, track 11. The acoustic guitar and reverberated cello of "Walk On By" make for an economical closer that's surprisingly light on sentiment compared to the fondue pot of cheese that is the middle of this album. Worst offender: "Broken Wings," a buddy-ballad that comes off like an edgier version of Randy Newman's "You Have a Friend In Me," which is like calling Toto "edgy."
12:42 p.m. Fourth listen, track 2. With a slower vocal delivery and a few words changed to suggest an apocalyptic theme, "I Thought I'd Seen Everything" could easily fit on Arcade Fire's Neon Bible. Wacky Canadians...
1:28 p.m. Fifth listen, track 6. The verses of "Somethin' To Believe In" are eerily reminiscent of "Lake Michigan" by Rogue Wave. Maybe Bryan Adams is aping indie-rock bands that are just obscure enough to land below his fan base's collective radar. Or maybe my Bryan-Adams-to-coffee ratio for the day is way off.
1:42 p.m. Fifth listen, track 9. I just looked up Bryan Adams on Wikipedia. He was born in November of 1959, which means that he was only nine years old during the "Summer of '69." If those were the best days of his life, dude peaked before he even hit double digits.
2:16 p.m. Sixth listen, track 4. I have to say, "Oxygen" is pretty cringe-worthy. Check the chorus: "Oxygen, every moment/Oxygen, every day/I can't live without it/Don't take it away/I need to breathe you in/[drum fill]/Like oxygen." It's bad, like post-millennial Bon Jovi bad.
3:18 p.m. Seventh listen, track 10. I loaded 11 onto my iPod and walked to the local coffee shop. My conversation with the barista contained the first sounds I've heard in more than five hours that didn't come from a moderately gruff-voiced Canadian singer/songwriter who's bros with Rod Stewart. "Flower Grown Wild," an ode to a groupie with questionable convictions, sounds like the Hold Steady if Craig Finn sucked down a helium balloon before recording the vocals. "Flower" also contains the line "too much lipstick and her dress real tight," which is almost identical to the opening couplet of "Gyroscope" by the Dismemberment Plan.
3:20 p.m. Seventh listen, track 11. For the life of me, I can't recall if Bryan sings the "all," the "for" or the "one" on his collaboration with Sting and Rod Stewart for the Three Musketeers soundtrack, although I think he takes the middle harmony in the song's chorus.
3:59 p.m. Eighth listen, track 9. The tempos on 11 are perfect for jogging and/or mallwalking. I had an American Tail-esque experience imagining that, somewhere out there, a semi-hip mom is also right now walking in step with "She's Got a Way" on an iPod on her way back from a coffee shop. In fact, "MILF-rock" is an apt description of Bryan Adams' music. I'm sure his shows are swarming with 40-going-on-29-year-old women dying to hear him sing this song's hook: "I feel so naked/I feel so totally exposed." Bryan Adams has probably signed enough boobs in his lifetime to warrant a Sharpie endorsement.
4:10 p.m. Ninth listen, track 1. I'm starting to grow attached to the way the final chord on closer "Walk On By" transitions into the moody organ chords of opener "Tonight We Have the Stars" when 11 is on a constant loop. The album is bookended by its best tracks, or at least the only two that seem to have some element of thought in their lyrics. Maybe Bryan should cut the fat (a.k.a., the other nine songs) and put it out as a seven-inch. He could call it 2. I'm sure most of his fans still have record players collecting dust in their attics.
4:42 p.m. Ninth listen, track 9. This bothers me: "We Found What We Were Looking For" features the hook, "We found our wings and now we fly above the wind." Adams repeats "you taught me how to fly on broken wings" on the very next track. Plus, the album's, "Mysterious Ways" immediately precedes "She's Got a Way," a tune whose chorus is strikingly similar to Tal Bachman's "She's So High."
5:03 p.m. Tenth listen, track 3. I attempt to take a nap with headphones on to see if 11 would seep into my subconscious, but the harmonica on "I Ain't Losin' the Fight" woke me up prematurely. In my half-awake, disoriented state, this song sounds like it could belong on Plans by Death Cab For Cutie, sans harmonica.