Columbia 5020292000
Produced by: The Boneyard Boys

Released: OUT / Website
Closest Relative: Themselves
GENRE: Hard Rock

  1. Beyond Beautiful
  2. Just Push Play
  3. Jaded
  4. Fly Away From Here
  5. Trip Hoppin'
  6. Sunshine
  7. Under My Skin
  8. Luv Lies
  9. Outta Your Head
  10. Drop Dead Gorgeous
  11. Light Inside
  12. Avant Garden
  13. Face*

This has been a harder CD for me to review that it should have been.
I have been really torn between two minds when it comes to listening to the record.
Aerosmith have been around a long while now, but it has been in the past decade that the band have released their most commercially successful material.
As recently as 1999 the band recorded their best selling single ever.
Their last album Nine Lives followed a more predictable path and to be honest I found it a little tired as a whole.
In 2001 the guys have tried to spice things up a little bit and take in some more contemporary sounds. Their appearance at this year's Superbowl with N'Sync and Britny Spears was part of that plan.
The album utilizes several modern production techniques such as sampling, some hip-hop rhythms and in several places, programmed instruments and vocal effects.
This has been welcomed by some fans, but in turn, has alienated some other sections of their fan base, while in reality, probably not picking up any new ones.
I don't have a problem with experimentation, as long as it is done well. The one essential ingredient to a good album is the songs contained within.
On Just Push Play, some of the experimentation works perfectly and sounds as if Aerosmith have been doing such things all along.
In other places it sounds completely out of place and a little forced. The difference between the two examples are the songs.
Half of the album contains great Aerosmith songs. The other half contains songs that just don't match the quality expectations placed on a band of such a high caliber.
The album opens with Beyond Beautiful. Not your traditional type of opening album track, but a classic track in just about any circumstance. Although it's not a big chorus, it still has one hell of an infectious hook and melody. Recorded with a modern touch and a few special effects, the song really harks back to the guitar sound and of their classic Pump album and is a song of such infinite quality, it should be loved by all.
Just Push Play is one of the tracks that borrows from the old and from the new. The style and delivery of the song is typical Aerosmith, but the production is straight from the street and has a more modern experimental edge to it. Catchy for sure, but the heavy effects filled production might put some off.
Jaded everyone knows, with it's contemporary guitar sound matching that of 90's superstars Smashing Pumpkins. The song seems to be the band trying to update their sound to create a commercial single to lead the album out with.
Fly Away From Here is the album's first ballad, typical Aerosmith album ballad with a few of those modern production touches and the second song in a row to use orchestral feel. It's a good track and isn't as sugar sweet as their big hit I Don't Want To Miss A Thing.
Trip Hoppin' is one of the album's more obscure numbers. Not sure that everyone will be able to dig this, but it's big and bombastic and catchy enough - in a slightly annoying way!
Sunshine is another track that captures some of the instrumental feel of Pump, but with a modern pop rock edge. A track that grows with repeat listens, but still hasn't got the legs of their classic hits.
Under My Skin starts of with a couple of drum loops, but then it is straight into a hard edged blues rocker. A great swaggering guitar riff, but no big hooks.
Luv Lies is a typical Aerosmith big ballad that has been standard on their last 4 releases. Nothing new, nothing amazing, but another good ballad to sit alongside Angel, What It Takes & Crazy etc.
Track 9 is where the band go a little further awol and lose me a little bit. Outta Your Head is heavily influenced by modern commercial trends, including a full rap verse. But in this instance, the quality of the song shines through. Strip back the production and it could have come from any recent album.
Drop Dead Gorgeous follows on in slightly alternative mode, complete with samples and drum loops. Like the title track, this is not in the same league of some other album tracks.
It's not the effects or the samples that I don't get - it's the occasional dip in song quality. I think the guys have saved the weakest few tracks until the end, as Light Inside doesn't do anything for me either. Light Inside rocks hard, but there is no real hook to grab you.
Avant Garden is a better track. It's a more stripped back acoustic driven song and also has a better and more likeable hook.
Face is an Australasian bonus track and could easily have found it's place on the wider release. It's a cool hook filled accapela track, with vocalist Tyler in fine form.
BOTTOM LINE: In my opinion, the guys have successfully updated their sound, now all they have to do is work a little harder on the songwriting.
For the most part this is a very enjoyable listen and already I have played this more then it's predecessor Nine Lives, so they must be doing something right!
The only thing that has let it down is some out of place experimentation and a few below average songs and weak choruses.
But at the very least, this album should guarantee the band's continuing existence and relevance.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Most Aerosmith fans, but especially those with an ear for modern rock.

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