The classic Mr. Big lineup reunites after a sixteen-year hiatus with an energetic album of new songs, What if… Eric Martin, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, and Pat Torpey, along with producer Kevin Shirley whipped up a batch of new material that leans heavily on their signature style last heard on the 1996 album Hey Man. The band's special blend of blue-eyed soul, rock, power-pop, heartfelt ballads, and shred is in place on What if… As such this new release offers nothing new in terms of band evolution, but offers the goods to their fan base. What If… lacks the earthier blues-funk elements brought by Paul Gilbert’s replacement Richie Kotzen. But die-hard fans will love the Van Halen-esque boogie of “American Beauty,” and the dark and ominously rocking “Nobody Left To Blame.” Gilbert and Sheehan are in great form trading eights, playing long tricky unison lines, and surgically implanting dazzling high-tech solos and cool flanger use within well-crafted rock tunes. What If… may not break new ground stylistically, but Mr. Big has pulled of an admirable feat by reuniting in spite of personality conflicts, and putting together a solid album so they can return to the stage is certainly reward enough.
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