In a cowbell-thwacking song called Out Go the Lights, Steven Tyler, Aerosmith's lead singer, spits out a phrase -- "Deja booty" -- that could easily describe Aerosmith's new album, Music From Another Dimension! It's the first album of Aerosmith's own songs since 2001, and with it, the band reclaims every last one of its trademarks through the decades.
Jack Douglas, who produced Aerosmith in the 1970s, returned as co-producer alongside Aerosmith's longtime songwriting team, Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry. Douglas helps the band reprise both its blues-rock origins and the pop skills it went on to acquire.
But there's some spark amid the calculation. The band hasn't been lazy; it revs up the old tricks and creates a ruckus despite the elaborate productions. In Legendary Child, which echoes Walk This Way, the band looks back on a 40-year recording career. But in LUV XXX, Tyler promises "Hot monkey sex on a hot tin roof/You'll be higher than a shot of a million proof." He turned 64 this year, and sounds like he's going on 18.
But it's power ballads that have kept Aerosmith on the radio. Diane Warren, who wrote Aerosmith's only No. 1 single, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, returns on this album with another hymnlike homily, We All Fall Down. The chesty excess of Tyler's vocals, with their squeak-topped rasp, often brings humor to the slow ones, even as they pitch their crescendos toward the cheapest seats in the stadium.
Another Last Goodbye, which suggests Aerosmith's Dream On rearranged as a Beatles piano ballad, with Tyler yowling, "What's it take to make this love survive another last goodbye?" Sure, it's a boy-girl breakup-and-makeup song. But maybe it's also a bid for Aerosmith to persist.