–ACE FREHLEY: Space Invader (2014, eOne Music)

ace-frehley-space-invader-cover

–ACE FREHLEY: Space Invader (2014, eOne Music)

The Space Ace has many cosmic tales to tell. For the second time in the last five years, Ace Frehley has decided to return to the relative comfort of Earth’s atmosphere to regale his fans with rocking tunes of galactic voyages and wild loving. It’s no hyperbole to say that Space Invader, Frehley’s follow-up to 2009’s outstanding comeback effort, Anomaly, is one of my most anticipated new releases of 2014. While Space Invader may not quite match the heavyweight punch and inspirational songwriting of its predecessor, it is still quintessential Ace – that is, more Kiss than Kiss itself.

That’s just the way Ace likes it. Kiss’ original lead guitarist certainly has been to Hell, or, Mars and back throughout his 40-plus-year music career. He survived the multiple contentious stints with Kiss and decades of substance abuse to record arguably one of the best hard rock records of this millennium in Anomaly. With that album, Frehley re-asserted his relevance within the Kiss canon and proved he can still write fun and innovative rock music. That Anomaly is better than the recent work of his former bandmates says as much about Frehley’s rediscovered inspiration as it does about any mediocrity on Kiss’ part. Yes, Anomaly is that good.

On its follow-up, Frehley indeed proves that its predecessor actually wasn’t, forgive me, an anomaly. Space Invader finds him encompassing myriad moods and tones from all eras of his solo career, and diehard fans of albums such as his 1978 self-titled debut, 1987’s Frehley’s Comet, and Anomaly will find plenty to enjoy here. That said, Space Invader is more of a light-hearted party record, and it lacks the heavy crunch and inspiring melodicism of Anomaly’s best tracks. But enough about Anomaly; Space Invader is a fun journey all its own, and it’s well deserving of praise and financial support.

Diversity is the theme and straight-ahead is the vibe of Frehley’s solo career, and Space Invader doesn’t disappoint on either front. The album boasts bright and powerful production values that highlight his comforting sing-talky vocals and inimitable lead guitar work. Hearing just a few notes of Frehley’s telltale trebly and wide-vibrato licks warms the heart and inspires a strum or two on the ol’ air guitar. Such nauseating sentimentality aside, Space Invader works because it rocks hard without pretensions.

The album opens in promising fashion with the anthemic title track, which is reminiscent of the punchy groove of “Outer Space” off Anomaly. Those who dig rollicking, old-school Kiss’n’roll will find plenty to like in tracks such as “Gimme a Feelin’,” “I Wanna Hold You,” “Toys,” and “What Every Girl Wants.” But Frehley is at his best here when he slows down the tempos and digs deep into his well of catchy riffs and introspective melodies: songs such as “Immortal Pleasures” and the quasi-ballad “Past the Milky Way” are especially satisfying. His hard-hitting cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” is no joke, of course, while the chiming arpeggios and beautifully hypnotic strains of album closer “Starship” recall his timeless “Fractured” series of instrumentals.

The bottom line – Space Invader delivers a little something for the hibernating space traveler in all of us, and it’s an Apollo blast-off of a rocket ride.–Jonathan Kollnot

–Tracklisting: 1.) Space Invader 2.) Gimme a Feelin’ (Radio Edit) 3.) I Wanna Hold You 4.) Change 5.) Toys 6.) Immortal Pleasures 7.) Inside the Vortex 8.) What Every Girl Wants 9.) Past the Milky Way 10.) Reckless 11.) The Joker 12.) Starship

 

 

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on November 5, 2014.

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