Record Review 

For a band that all but epitomized the concept of '80s bombastic arena rock -- not coincidentally selling a few bazillion albums along the way -- it won't come as a shock to learn that their first new release in six years doesn't break new ground. The only aspect that's striking about Arrival -- steadfastly continuing the trend of one-word journey-related titles (Infinity, Evolution, Departure, Escape and Frontiers) -- is how it mimics with jaw-dropping accuracy the band you loved to hate when they permeated the radio 20 years ago.

Even with Steve Perry's defining tenor gone, replacement Steve Augeri retains the identical histrionic, reach-for-the-back-rows vocal approach. It'll be almost impossible for die-hard Journey devotees to distinguish between the two. Augere's swooping drama meshes with Jonathan Cain's grandiose keyboards and founder Neal Schon's flamboyant, glitzy guitar leads that aim for the stratosphere and generally hit their mark. At their most pompous, which is all the time, they make U2 sound like Nick Drake.

The worst an established fortysomething fan can say about this spiffy soundtrack -- a flashback to their first backseat grope -- is that at 74 bit-bursting minutes, it drags on a half-hour too long. Bloated with lighter-raising ballad anthems, gushy love songs and stadium-sized choruses, this is everything a card-carrying Journey lover could hope for. If you're not one already, the proudly dated Arrival is downright D.O.A.

Journey plays Chastain Park Amphitheatre Sun., June 24.


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