Aerosmith was formed in Boston in 1970 and have since become one of the biggest and most respected bands in rock music. Now, in 2012, Aerosmith, with all the members of their signature line up, released their 15th studio album. The album is called Music From Another Dimension! It is their first studio album since 2004 and their first album of all new material since 2001.
Music From Another Dimension! is a very split album. One part of the album is a warm reminder of Aerosmith in their heyday, when the band would write catchy and perfectly phrased guitar riffs with memorable lyrics and a rough tone. That part of the album is very, very small.
A much larger part of the album is full of uninspired ballads and attempts to conform to current pop music standards. By my count there are six ballads. For Barry Manilow, that’s a pretty standard number, but for a rock band that is entirely too many. There are a few gems in this album, but they are completely buried under all of the generic piano songs.
The entire album feels very conflicted. It constantly switches back and forth between the bluesy, Rolling Stones-worshipping Aerosmith and the soft I-Don’t-Wanna-Miss-A-Thing Aerosmith. It also quickly becomes apparent which songs were written primarily by Steven Tyler and which songs were written by Joe Perry.
During “Oh Yeah” the rest of the band is really solid and in sync, but Steven’s voice sounds surprisingly weak and while the rest of the band sounds upbeat, he sounds very uninterested. Inversely, on “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” Joe’s guitar solo is very simplistic and loses all of the flair and vitality that has become his signature sound over the years.
The only times that the band sounds completely cohesive is during “Freedom Fighter” and “Something,” when Joe takes over as lead vocalist and lead guitarist, and during “We All Fall Down,” which has Steven singing and playing piano during the entire song with no guitar breaks.
Joe and Steven, the once inseparable Toxic Twins, are clearly twins no longer. While Joe stays firmly planted in the band’s bluesy roots, Steven tries to stray into the mainstream and that conflict results in some truly confusing songs. Even after listening to “Street Jesus” multiple times, it’s still completely incomprehensible. “Beautiful” starts off with a high speed beginning and so much energy, but the chorus becomes soft, generic, and whiny.
The bipolar nature of the album makes it very hard to listen to, but the most disappointing part of the album is that the band shows that they still have all of the elements to make a great album, yet it just didn’t happen. The rhythm section is still as tight as ever, Steven still has his fantastically rough voice, and Joe hasn’t run out of fantastic solos and beautifully phrased riffs, but they can never have all of those things come together at the same time.
2 out of 5 stars. As an album it isn’t bad, but as an Aerosmith album it missed the mark. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry chose to duke out their feud with their creative differences.