Music From Another Dimension is the fifteenth studio album from these old-hands of the rock scene. It's been 11 years since the band have released a full studio album of new material and frankly, it could quite easily have been entitled Music From Another Decade, for the sake of accuracy. Nothing's really changed in the Aerosmith camp since we last heard a full collection of original material (2001's Just Push It) but then, Aerosmith were never ones for pushing musical boundaries, were they? It's all about pouring yourself into a combination of very small items of denim and leather, draping yourself in scarves and adhering strictly to every rock cliché under the sun.
And cliche is the order of the day, here. There's everything that you would expect from an Aerosmith album, and no more. Fist-clenching love ballads, head-banging three-chord blues rock; standard '80s rock affair. There is a terrifying moment, on the album opener 'LUV XXX' which, with vocalist Steven Tyler singing "hello" over and over, sounds almost as though they are about to start aping the grunge sound of Nirvana. Luckily, the moment passes. just. and we are left with the sound of 64 year-old Steven Tyler telling us to "love three times a day / lock yourself away," and yowling something about "sex on a hot tin roof." Not a cliché, per se, but a depressingly, reassuringly Aerosmithian take on the world.
Lyrically, Tyler treads familiar ground. Not just familiar to himself, but familiar to anyone who's ever resorted to listening to drive-time radio shows, as he hurls vignettes like "a red hot lady on a cold summer night," ('Out Go The Lights') from his raggedly vocal cords. And stylistically, there's also a sense of de-ja vu here. Aerosmith released two singles simultaneously from Music From Another Dimension. One of them, 'What Could Have Been Love,' is pure 'I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing' territory. You'd be forgiven for assuming that the band had filmed a stereotypical cinematic accompanying video of a troubled lover getting into his convertible, listening to this song on the car stereo, before driving out to a dusty old dive bar, where tattooed hulks play pool and fight over their love rival. You'd be forgiven for thinking that, because that's exactly what they did. Hell, it's worked for them in the past so why shouldn't it work now? All they're really missing is a young Alicia Silverstone and it could be 1993 again, for all we know.
What Aerosmith have going for them, though, is enthusiasm and passion, by the truckload. Anyone doubting the reasoning behind timing of this album, after such a lengthy gap between the release of new material (it just so happens to be released shortly Tyler's recent stint back in the public eye on American Idol) will have a tough time denying that Music From Another Dimension is more than just a cash cow. And there are some saving graces, here, too; glimpses of a band at least endeavouring to step outside their comfortable range. At nearly seven minutes long, 'Street Jesus' demonstrates a contemporary spark that is lacking in the rest of their material. It may be, essentially, still just a bluesy rock number, but the band play around with dynamics and tempo, Tyler churns out the lyrics at breakneck speed and slows again to a raunchy drawl. And 'Something,' which starts with a drunken-sounding church organ sound and leads into an equally laconic guitar solo and eventually rounds out into an almost Beatles-esque melody, sounding delightfully like a band jamming in an outhouse, rather than one of the world's biggest rock bands siphoning cash into an expensive recording studio.
Aerosmith were never setting out to break the mould with Music From Another Dimension. The mere fact that they have reconvened, written an album's worth of new material and are intent on sharing their enduring passion for what they do, will no doubt be pleasing news for Aerosmith fans. If you like your rock soft and rooted in the 1980s then this album is surely a gem. If you're a fan of progress, innovation, or lyrical insight, you may want to give it a wide berth.
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