The idea of a long-established rock band coming back at a modern time and releasing new material amongst a range of newer bands used to be a really cool idea that you could instantly get behind and claim to be a victory for classic rock and roll. And then as you grow older and realise them strength of many new bands, you have to look at long-established rock bands making a comeback and all you can really see is an inability for these names to keep up with the bands they've inspired. And it just gets a bit sad. It's already happened with KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd this year. Maybe the young-blooded bands are just doing better than the bands that everyone in the public knows one or two songs from this year. So when I discovered that Aerosmith were to be releasing their 15th album Music From Another Dimension! today, their first album since 2004, I was cynical and not really expecting it to be some grand comeback. After all, in between then, Steven Tyler's turned 60, become a judge on American Idol and broken his teeth while in the shower. All classic signs of becoming a mellow old man right?
So does Music From Another Dimension give heartless bastards like me a reason to be cynical? Well, not really. The Bad Boys from Boston were clearly aware that their age was going to attract such cynicysm and have really made an age defying collection of blues-ridden hard rock songs that will leave you dancing and banging heads. With it's science fiction inspired opening featuring a voice over that will promise to move your senses, the opening hooks of Luv XXX actually manages to deliver it's promises as gutsy guitar work from Joe Perry and Brad Whitford gives us hook after hook. The pair are effortless in delivering solid solos and riffs after one another giving the likes of Out Go the Lights and Legendary child that fun loving spirit of good times rock and roll that rocked the 1970's.
Of course, it's Steven Tyler that provides the album of it's main source of charisma as always. Even on some songs where there seems to be an apparent amount of auto-tuning being used to support his vocals, he still boasts through his bold domination on these songs. The narrative styles of Street Jesus makes his performance all too gripping, while he manages to unleash a surprising amount of anger on Lover Alot, a performance that really does defy age and that youthful passion can still exist. On closing track One Last Goodbye, Tyler unleashes the full extent of his vocal techniques and it's a nice reminder that what he can do is essentially superhuman.
Of course One Last Goodbye is one of the cheesiest most cringe-worthy ballads I've ever heard and man, are Aerosmith a band that love their ballads. A lot of the ballads on this album are probably top notch, but you know that once again, I'm a heartless bastard that hates ballads. So songs like What Could Have Been Love and Can't Stop Lovin' You featuring guest vocals from country pop star Carrie Underwood are painful at best. The worst on offer is undoubtedly We All Fall Down, a ballad devoid of anything rock and roll that sounds like Tyler taking influence from people he judged on American Idol. And of course, the band insist on presenting this stomping hard rock song/weepy ballad dichotomy across the album, so there's an equal balance between the good and the lame.
I guess this means Music From Another Dimension! is not an album for heartless bastards. But if you like your rock and roll and you can handle your ballads in full force, then Aerosmith have returned with another stomper of an album. It's no Rocks and no rap rock bangers featuring Run-DMC are to be found anywhere but this is definitely a solid collection of songs that satisfy a good release from a long-established rock band releasing new material amongst a range of newer bands. And when a band can make songs as solid as this so late on in their career, maybe age is just a number.
Aerosmith's Music From Another Dimension! is out now via Columbia