Rihanna’s latest isn’t a pop album, it’s a psychiatrist’s case study.
Download: Diamonds, What Now.
Green Day, ¡Dos! (Reprise) * * 1/2
Green Day’s second in a trilogy of new albums (September’s ¡Uno! kicked the series off and ¡Tré! is due Dec. 11) was meant to reconnect Green Day with its pre- American Idiot brio after two conceptual albums led the pop/punk group to Broadway. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
¡Uno! largely succeeded with its brace of three-minute power pop tunes which recalled the group’s 1994 breakthrough Dookie. The album didn’t sell well, however. Perhaps lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s onstage meltdown and resultant rehab on the eve of its release, and the forced cancellation of a tour in support of the albums, sapped momentum.
The slightly scrappier ¡Dos! is fine on its own with similarly infectious, well-crafted and occasionally vulgar garage-pop, party-hearty outings like F--- Time and The Who-like Wow! That’s Loud. Armstrong sounds particularly strong on the closing Amy, a sparse, almost soul-folk tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. But coming so close on the kicky heels of ¡Uno! this ambitious plan to release so much new music, 37 songs in all, in a few month’s span is starting to feel like a mistake.
Download: F--- Time, Wow! That’s Loud.
Aerosmith, Music From Another Dimension! (Columbia) * *
When Aerosmith’s lead singer Steven Tyler sang “Take me to the other side” 23 years ago from his band’s most popular album of the 1980s, Pump, who knew the “other side” would be his stint as an ineffectual judge on TV’s American Idol?
Tyler’s Idol-ization unfortunately mars what should have been Aerosmith’s best album since the Boston hard rockers’ ‘70s heyday. Guitarist Joe Perry is up for the challenge on the band’s 15th studio album and first set of originals since 2001’s forgettable Just Push Play. Seventies producer Jack Douglas is back. The first single, Legendary Child, previewed on Idol in May, though an obvious rewrite of Last Child from 1976’s classic album Rocks, nevertheless works as a nifty lyrical summation of the band’s history. The band sounds tight, meaty and typically huge on hard-driving cuts like the frisky and sleazy Out Go the Lights and Oh Yeah.
These cuts have enough of the old Aerosmith swagger to satisfy fans who bailed for good in the early ‘90s when the group began delivering sappy Diane Warren ballads.
Alas, Warren’s back, too, as are the banal ballads. Tyler, though vocally sturdy, even sings a duet with fourth-season Idol winner and country star Carrie Underwood in a blatant attempt to score a country-pop crossover hit.
And once again, Aerosmith loses all rock credibility. Skip the overlong album and pluck the highlights for an Aerosmith playlist.
Download: Out Go the Lights, Oh Yeah, Legendary Child.
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