After rushing their second album Don't Look Back, Boston took eight years to complete the album Third Stage. The long delay is even more surprising considering that their sound didn't change at all; even though only songwriter/guitarist Tom Scholz and vocalist Brad Delp remained from the original lineup, they were the ones responsible for Boston's sound. As such, it is difficult to avoid comparisons with their landmark debut. Third Stage has some strong moments, especially the number one hit "Amanda" where the band blends acoustic and electric guitars to complement the layered vocals. However, the songs are not as strong as those on their debut, and the album is marred by the presence of instrumental fillers and an attempt to cling to a theme of "journey through life's third stage." Thus, rather than focusing on universal topics such as the exuberance and uncertainties associated with youth, the mature lyrics are lost on most of their young rock audience. Given the time between albums and the changes in the pop landscape, it was a little disappointing to find Boston stuck in the same sound. The album still sounds great when it works on all cylinders ("We're Ready," "Cool the Engines"), but the album is not filled with enough satisfying moments. This may be nostalgic pop rock of the '80s, but casual listeners should start with their debut.
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AllMusic Review by Vik Iyengar