Sound: While Gene Simmons has been prominent on the reality show circuit and Paul Stanley has dabbled in artwork, theater, and a solo album over the past decade, Ace Frehley was always one to keep a relatively low profile. It's been 20 years since his last full album of original material (Trouble Walkin'), and the iconic KISS guitarist decided it was about time to throw his hat back in the ring. Frehley told Billboard Magazine that before recording his latest record Anomaly that he dissected his 1978 self-titled album in order to regain that same mindset. That particular record was a fan favorite, and Frehley has done a pretty phenomenal job of recreating the same sort of vibe.
Just like his former bandmates in KISS, Frehley is a savvy one, and he isn't trying to recreate the wheel with Anomaly. He's created quite a few songs in the vein of KISS, but there are a few surprises along the way as well. As the primary writer and producer for the majority of the material, it's an impressive and novel comeback. Apparently this was the first time that Frehley worked with Pro Tools, too, but the digital aspect doesn't ever affect the general raw quality that you receive with the 12 tracks.
The opening track Foxy & Free is an apt introduction and good representation of Frehley a pretty straightforward, power-chord driven rocker. That same format pops up in the songs Pain In The Neck, Too Many Faces, and the reflective but fun It's A Great Life. The Sweet cover Fox on the Run was the one track co-produced by Marti Frederiksen, and it's just an all-around likeable number that is a perfect fit for the benign Frehley.
The biggest surprises come in Genghis Khan, which could be considered the big epic track. The song highlights Frehley's ability to think outside of the box, not to mention his picking skills. Starting out with a clean-picked intro, it morphs into an Asian-influenced melody. Genghis Khan transitions into a more sonic-sounding rock tune shortly after the intro (with only one two lyrical lines repeated during the course of the song), but it's still a fascinating addition. You also get two amazing, yet contrasting instrumental tracks on Anomaly (Space Bear and Fractured Quantum) that once again prove that Frehley is about more than just the KISS faade. // 8
Lyrics: Frehley doesn't try to put on any airs in terms of the lyrical content, and it's refreshing to know that he's not afraid to dip back into themes about outer space. Sure there are some cheesier numbers like Foxy & Free and Sister that don't feel all that original, but Frehley also delivers a track closer to the heart. A Little Below Angels discusses his struggle with alcohol (Alcohol was a friend of mine; It almost got me dead; I crashed some cars; Got into a fight; Some things I now regret), which is particularly significant given that the album release date marks the 3rd year of his sobriety. // 7
Overall Impression: Whatever you might expect Anomaly to sound like, you're probably not far off. It's someone standard, but there is something incredibly catchy and likeable about the material. Frehley's vocal delivery has always been a little quirky, but he owns it. A track like It's A Great Life might not be the most interesting because it's basically your run-of-the-mill chord-driven rock tune, but Genghis Khan, Fractured Quantum, and Space Bear are memorable and creative highlights that will keep the Frehley fans satisfied. // 8