So I was really looking forward to this album, Music From Another Dimension!, the first grouping of original tunes from Aerosmith in over a decade. I was looking forward to it partly because I love comeback stories. An iconic rock band imploding under the weight of infighting, drug abuse and an overall loss of direction, finding its way again and coming back better than ever?? That’s the stuff of movie scripts. That was the framework for the buildup of Dimension’s release: this was supposed to be the record that helped Aerosmith reclaim its epic status.
I say all this because I genuinely wanted the story to be true. I wanted to give this record a glowing review. But I just can’t—not in good conscience.
The first single “Legendary Child,” released last summer, gave us hints of promise. But then as more songs were released, they started giving us a premonition of disappointment. And now that the full record has arrived amid a cacophony of its own fanfare, it’s easy to see this is not the record we had hoped for.
For one thing, I’m scratching my head over the record’s title. Instead of Music From Another Dimension!, it should have been named “Music From Three Bygone Eras.” There are remnant sounds from each of the past three decades of Aerosmith’s career—from the classic 70’s rock, through the lost 80’s, and the spit-and-polish 90’s pop/rock—and it’s all jumbled together so this 15-track album sounds a lot like having three unreleased Aerosmith B-side records on shuffle on a CD changer. The end result is that the album is meandering, directionless, and basically self-indulgent.
So where’s this “other dimension” they are talking about? Maybe they figured if they claimed the music was not of this world, no one would try to measure it against anything, so no one would see how bad it was. Maybe the rock gods have become convinced that they are actually above human scrutiny.
No such luck. The record is full of trite lyrics and forgettable non-hooks, to the point that even the references to drugs and sex feel like a caricature. The four (count ‘em, four) ballads don’t come close to the hit value of “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing,” while rockers like “LUV XXX” and “Lover Alot” basically serve to remind us of other hit Aerosmith songs that these songs, um, aren’t. To make matters worse, the further down you get in the track list, the more lost the record becomes. Dimension could have at least reached “slightly mediocre” status if they’d just stopped after the first ten tracks.
Now, to be fair, the record isn’t entirely without its high points. Dimension’s most redeeming value, the one thing that saves it from complete oblivion, is its moments of stellar guitar work from Brad Whitford and Joe Perry. Also, for what its worth, Steven Tyler is able to demonstrate that despite the years of self-abuse, he can still belt out the best screeches in rock & roll when it’s called for. The one tune on the record where these elements seem to come together best is “Out Go the Lights.” Highlighting the band at its bluesiest, this song has a groove that kills, and at the very least shows us that Aerosmith as a band still shows signs of life.
But alas, these are the only good things I can say about an album that I really wanted to be as good as everyone said it would be. Music From Another Dimension! simply doesn’t make a good case for this band “coming back.” This might sound harsh, but loyalty must be earned, and the record feels like it was made with the assumption that fans would love it just because it’s Aerosmith, rather than being an honest attempt to earn the respect of their fans. It might be better to send this one back to whatever dimension it came from, and try again.