Apparently disappointed with critical hatred of their previous work, Poison made a bid to be taken seriously after the massive success of Open Up and Say...Ahh! Even the title of Flesh & Blood indicates a desire for more substance and reality in their music, as do darker songs like "Valley of Lost Souls," "(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice," "Life Loves a Tragedy," and a more reflective power ballad, "Life Goes On." There's still the adolescent sleaze of the Top Five hit "Unskinny Bop," but for the most part, Poison shies away from party anthems in favor of Bret Michaels' toughness-in-the-face-of-tribulation philosophizing. Sometimes it works surprisingly well, aided by the band's most consistent songwriting and a wider musical range that occasionally veers into swampy blues-rock. At other times, though, Michaels comes off as well intentioned but too self-consciously proud of his own ambition to recognize when he oversteps his bounds, as on parts of the hit ballad "Something to Believe In."