It's gonna suck. But contrary to popular belief, Aerosmith is new to sucking. At its best -- "Cryin'," "Janie's Got a Gun," "Dream On," "Love in an Elevator" -- American rock has never been better, bawdier, or more maximal. Aerosmith is like if New York Dolls grew up on Thriller (or helped invent it). And I posit the theory that "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" was somewhat necessary in that Kanye/"E.T." way to refuel the creative resolve after breaking the bank (and why wasn't "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)" huge anyway?) But American Idol drains anything it touches. For one thing, the band's last album was called Honkin' on fucking Bobo, a made-up Tyler rap-phrase. This title could be a Bowling for Soup album. Mostly just wanna to know if there's any entendres still left in there on Aerosmith's first album in eight years.
Having been through the comeback jive at least three times, Aerosmith are more than familiar with arena-rock-dominance establishment moves like a faux-Rod Serling "Twilight Zone" intro. Except the riff that follows isn't much of a riff, and a tired-sounding Tyler moaning "Hello/ Hello/ Come on/ Hello/ Hello/ Until the storm blows over" couldn't wake up rock 'n' roll with a bucket of water. The chorus is pretty good for a key-change "Love in an Elevator" retread. But it's not at all convincing that they're still capable of "love three times a day." Their latter-day stiffness is about par with Green Day's. Apparently Julian Lennon sings backing vocals, and he's not the Lennon kid you want.
This Stones rip is a little better, complete with "Tumbling Dice" backup chicks. But there's something too depressing about the fact Aerosmith -- Aerosmith -- is in a position of having to prove that they're Still a Rock Band. Authenticity was never what made this band great. Stunts like Run-D.M.C. -- and outrageously overblown ballads and rockers to the point that Garth Brooks once covered them -- are what made Aerosmith special, not competence.
Awful. I take back the last blurb entirely --Tyler's shredded voice is in no shape to rap, scat, or scream. It sounds like he's literally wheezing. And even under those pretenses, the chorus should go over the top with momentum, not bliss out in some half-time bullshit. Plus the riff should be uglier.
Christ, they're really paying for "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," aren't they? Guys, you wrote "Dream On," "Janie's Got a Gun," "What It Takes," "Cryin'"... you do not need to get your credibility back with half-baked psychedelia. Although that Tame Impala record makes me wonder what Dave Fridmann could do for a band who needs to relearn how to take themselves over the top. This is woozy.
"Out Go the Lights"
Finally a pretty good riff, a little boogie, and an eyebrow-cocking 6:55 running time. Ladies sing the chorus. Not much rising and falling action as the thing goes on, so this is a jam, albeit in the Creedence sense; a workout. America's greatest rock 'n' rollers: now trying to meet the Black Crowes halfway.
More riffs that have already been written. "Eat the Rich" with the balls cut off. They'll settle for a nibble of the poor. Grand excesses I was prepared for. Even 1982's goof-up Rock in a Hard Place tried to scale imaginary new peaks on Coke Mountain. But dull I never thought I'd see the day.
"What Could Have Been Love"
I highly doubt Steven Tyler wakes up and wonders how everything went wrong, or whether or not he's to blame. I do believe he puts on '90s Elton John before bed. In one of this lifeless album's craftier choruses, he opines "All I have is emptiness that comes from being free," as apt an explanation of the 1 percent boring themselves to death in their huge mansions/artistic prisons as ever been written. But being imprisoned/boring himself, I doubt he sees the irony. Which is a sad stage for the master winker who brought us, "I'd rather be OD'ing on the crack of her ass. Their way with a ballad remains their biggest miracle though; hard as they try to sell out, their big power-climax endings are still their most listenable moments, on this evidence. A sad little highlight.
Nice segue into this attempt to barrel out another "Toys in the Attic," maybe this album's finding new life. And it's impressive how many different phases of their career they're trying to resurrect on this album -- he even name-checks "Train Kept A-Rollin'" here. If only a single one of them was an improvement, or at least equal. For a band whose best albums were in 1975, 1989, and 1993, it doesn't seem impossible to ask. The syntax here is pretty good; Tyler's always been a secret forefather of rap, and it still shows when he rhymes "wouldn't it be great"/"wipe the slate" but I wish he didn't waste "colonize the moon and stars" on another "stars" rhyme. Listenable for 6:43.
Next: Joe Perry starts singing, and the album gets stronger, surprisingly