Aerosmith’s new album, their first of new material in 8 years, Music From Another Dimension is a welcome addition to their catalog.
There are many positive things to say about it which will encourage old fans and new ones as this is one of the more consistent efforts at a return to the band’s roots that I have seen in a number of years.
The album starts out with a bang as “Luv XXX” brings us an infectious groove and a catchy chorus. It has been far too long since we’ve heard anything like this from the band. I always knew they could do it. While some of the band’s more recent tunes have been enjoyable in their way, it has felt to me that Aerosmith was missing their potential in favor of the flavor of the moment. Not so for the greater part of this record. Heavy rock, often with a hint of blues vibe, is felt again in such new tunes as “Out Go The Lights,” which is especially addictive after the 4:15 mark. “Oh Yeah” is a tune which continues this rocking pace.
“Street Jesus” reminds me of the days when a good guitar riff or two carried an entire song; it actually manages to pull off sounding like the Chicago blues at the start but successfully evolves into a rock anthem which sounds more modern than a return to the 70’s, ’80’s or ’90. “Lover A Lot” is another tune that has a great guitar vibe that reconnects Aerosmith to its roots.
One of the most unexpected and enjoyable perks of this album is the number of vocals by other members of the band, particularly Joe Perry. I always knew he could sing, but had rarely heard an example of his vocal talent. It is displayed here in three tunes, a catchy one called “Freedom Fighter,” “Something,” and “Oasis In The Night.” Even Tom Hamilton chimes in with a tune titled “Up On A Mountain.” He, too, should sing more often, and I hope he does.
The tunes mentioned so far are, I think, the most enjoyable and noteworthy on the album, but also worth a listen are some of the more commercially leaning tunes such as “Beautiful,” “Tell Me,” the album’s first single “Legendary Child,” “What Could Have Been Love,” and “Closer.” One of the brighter spots in this part of the record come from Steen Tyler’s duet with country star Carrie Underwood in the tune “Can’t Stop Loving You.” I would say it is a sort of market crossover, but modern country has a lot more in common with rock these days than the roots from whence it came. Nonetheless this is worth giving a listen to.
One of the weaker efforts I could have done without are “We All Fall Down,” which has too much of a syrupy feel, and sounds as if it might have been more at home on Done With Mirrors.
One critique I might add is that the album seems rather long, and the more blues tinged rockers don’t seem to fit in with the more commercially leaning tunes. Maybe this was intentional, since it has been so long since Aerosmith’s last album, and perhaps they wanted to appeal to everyone in their fanbase, which is now multigenerational. I think we might have been better served to divide the two styles into two albums, and perhaps release them 6 or 8 months apart. This isn’t as radical as it first sounds since 35, 40 years ago that type of plan was much more common. But when it comes down to it, that is a very minor point and overall I am pleased with this record which I can recommend to fans young and old.
Production on the album was provided by a collection of individuals, most notably Jack Douglas, who particularly worked production magic on “Freedom Fighter” that made it extra cool. On this album the band also worked with Marti Frederiksen. The dual producer effort may have contributed to the divide between the blues tinged tunes on the album and the others, which feel both fortunately and unfortunately leftover children of the ’80’s. Desmond Child even contributes lyrics with the tune “Another Last Goodbye,” and whether or not I enjoy this one, as it turns out, is my mood.
Again, I can say this album is a worthy and long overdue return for Aerosmith that I can wholeheartedly recommend. I hope it does not take them as long between albums in the future.