AEROSMITH: MUSIC FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION! (2012)
1) LUV XXX; 2) Oh Yeah; 3) Beautiful; 4) Tell Me; 5) Out Go The Lights; 6) Legendary Child; 7) What Could Have Been Love; 8) Street Jesus; 9) Can't Stop Loving You; 10) Lover Alot; 11) We All Fall Down; 12) Freedom Fighter; 13) Closer; 14) Something; 15) Another Last Goodbye; 16*) Up On A Mountain; 17*) Oasis In The Night; 18*) Sunny Side Of Love.
Word of the day is «tedious». Seven years in the making, during which the band almost came to a complete halt (as Joe Perry started spreading rumors that Aerosmith would go on with a new lead singer) — eleven years, actually, since the world's greatest rock'n'roll band, MTV-style, graced us with their last all-original collection of tightly polished, relentlessly professional, thoroughly washed-up rock-a-pop. And now — not only are they back, but what they are offering us is Music From Another Dimension. Sure thing, guys. Any dimension in which Diane Warren may be residing at present is definitely another by me.
If, like poor deluded me, you ever thought that the not-particularly-inspired, but still relatively tough, blues-drenched, Honkin' On Bobo gave a weak hint at salvation, and that the subsequent live release so strongly reminded us of what was ever so great about Aerosmith in the first place — forget all hopes even before you put the record on. The album cover is cheesier than ever, and once again, they fall back on their corporate songwriter squad: Marti Frederiksen! Jim Vallance! Desmond Child! Russ Irwin! And, oh yes, Lady Di in person, with a brand new power ballad and she's not afraid to use it. If you thought these guys were long since packed in naphthalene, you got another think coming. Another dimension has opened up, and the living dead are upon us.
Except that even the living dead, as it turns out, are not immune to aging. Where «classic late period Aerosmith» managed to become an outrageous offense to good taste while still retaining a serious level of energy and catchiness, Music From Another Dimension is nowhere near as offensive (it is not altogether «mentorial», with neither the carnal nor the humanitarian save-the-world side of these guys over-emphasized as usual) — it is simply dull. Long, overdrawn, repetitive, monotonous, and deadly, mind-numbingly D-U-L-L.
No one has bothered writing a single new interesting riff. At best, you get rehashes of ʽLast Childʼ, ʽDraw The Lineʼ or even ʽWalk On Downʼ, and at worst, you just get the basic wall of stiffly produced sound that Aerosmith can produce in their collective sleep, having built up so much experience since 1987. Yes, it all sounds like Aerosmith — why should it all sound like anybody else? — and it all sounds tired. Of course, they are old men, and one has to lower the expectations in proportion to age. Or has one, really? With a million and one bands in the world still punching out loud rock'n'roll, why settle for somebody just because they are — just because they used to be — Aerosmith?
Take my advice, if you wish, and make your decision based on the very first track, since most of the rest will sound more or less the same way. Loud, compressed, based on a blues-rock melody taken directly from the stockpile, and featuring multi-tracked vocals from Tyler that finally show serious signs of aging — he is quite consciously sparing his throat after the surgery performed in 2006, and avoids overtaxing the larynx. Obviously, he cannot be blamed, but it is just as obviously clear that, without Tyler's vocal antics, Aerosmith is going to look no happier than the three-legged dog on the cover of an Alice In Chains album. (For honesty's sake, Steve can still hit his famous high notes, but he only does this in exceptional cases now — mostly saving it up for the «climactic» moments of the album-closing ballad, ʽAnother Last Goodbyeʼ, and, actually, it isn't all that pretty any more). And then there are the air-brushed lyrics, no longer dripping sexy sweat as they used to, but somehow it seems that the taming is more generally due to the overall aura of political correctness flowing in the air than the wise decision to finally «act their age»: "Love three times a day, love your life away... there ain't no other way, it's in your DNA" — sounds like a Viagra commercial to me, don't you think?
In terms of general «musical philosophy», the album continues the line of Just Push Play, subtly erasing the line between «rocker» and «ballad» and throwing on poppy lines and psychedelic hugs every now and then — but it also cuts down on the most overtly «Beatlesque» moves of that album; on a purely formal basis, Another Dimension rocks harder (on an intuitive basis, it does not rock at all). Will this please old-time fans? Not sure. Even with the fast-moving songs like ʽStreet Jesusʼ and ʽLover A Lotʼ, there is really no feel that these were recorded with any other purpose than «hey, we still have to prove that we can do another ʽToys In The Atticʼ». Forget it. They can no longer do even another ʽFeverʼ.
Then there are the genuinely dorky bits. The album's equivalent of ʽBack In The Saddleʼ, for instance, is ʽOut Go The Lightsʼ, with the sexual bravado culminating in a chorus that will just have to go down the annals — or the drain, one of the two: "If you wanna take a lookie cookie / Tonight might be your lucky". And ʽCan't Stop Loving Youʼ is a duet with American Idol winner Carrie Underwood — and the song sounds like it belongs on American Idol, one of those «neo-country» pieces of garbage that even a post-Permanent Vacation Aerosmith should be ashamed of being associated with.
And it's loooooong. Sixty seven minutes of one non-descript piece of muzak after another (occasionally my brain even fails to register the pauses between the tracks). In this totally draggy atmosphere, there are almost no high- or lowlights: even the Diane Warren ballad is no better or worse than everything else. Perry gets two lead vocals, including the one on ʽFreedom Fighterʼ, a perfunctory anti-war rant that sounds as if made on order; it ain't even no ʽWalk On Downʼ — back in the days of Get A Grip, you could at least count on old man Perry to strike out some old-timey rock'n'roll excitement as an antithesis to the band's generally glossy sound, but here there is no difference: the glossy sound has worn off some of the gloss, and the exciting bits have lost some of the excitement. It's all just one big gray blob of sonic murk.
Music From Another Dimension! is not a general offense to good taste (at least, not until the American Idol woman enters the studio): even if they still wanted to, Aerosmith simply no longer have it in them to spearhead the «MTV taking over the world» movement. But, much like every bit of original material that their forefathers, The Rolling Stones, recorded in the 21st century, this is first and foremost merely a reminder — that this here band, Aerosmith, is still with us, whether we like it or not. Naturally, they have every right to issue a reminder like that — and we have every right to remind them that this is nothing more than just a reminder. By giving it a certified thumbs down, for instance.
Check "Music From Another Dimension!" (MP3) on Amazon