Skepticism is bound to arise anytime a superstar pop/rock band whose commercial peak was well over 20 years ago slaps an optimistic title like Just Getting Started on its first studio album in over ten years. But there's something joyful and inspiring about Loverboy re-emerging with fresh material in the digital/Myspace generation yet feeling no need to update or tweak the classic, high-spirited sound that helped define arena rock in the '80s. In fact, it's "Almost Paradise" listening to this powerhouse Canadian fivesome (including new bassist Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve, who replaced the late Scott Smith in 2001) as they work for the weekend again. Having dispensed with the puns based on their biggest collective hit and frontman Mike Reno's signature duet ballad with Ann Wilson, we can get down to the business of enjoying Loverboy circa 2007. The hard chugging title track has all the elements the band is famous for -- blistering guitars, an irresistibly anthemic hook, classic clichés that we can completely forgive ("ain't over yet," "finger on the trigger") and Reno's gritty vocals. That same, can't miss crunchy pop formula drives two of the project's other instant classics, "One of Them Days" and "Lost with You." The similarly hard-hitting "Stranded" was the song that broke the creative logjam that had held up Reno for years -- and the catharsis shows. But Loverboy wasn't all just playful bombast and corporate rock hooks. Back in the day, they were also brilliant power pop tearjerking balladeers, a poignant tradition they carry on here convincingly with "Fade to Black," the torchy and plaintive "I Would Die for You," and especially "The One That Got Away," the disc's first single that was inspired by Reno's divorce. Fortunately, Loverboy don't leave their old fans (and newly curious listeners) high and dry and sad and lonely for long -- "As Good as It Gets" is unabashed, uplifting rock romance all the way, a testament to second chances and romantic and spiritual rebirth. Just like the album itself, which is a welcome return to form by a band that's too much fun to stay skeptical about for long.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran