Nine Lives – Aerosmith (1997)

nine-lives***1/2

For some reason, Nine Lives just seems cooler than Get a Grip. A part of it may be because it doesn’t have a freakin pierced cow udder on the case, but I think it has more to do with the effort that Aerosmith was putting in to make their album sound different. Utilizing strange instrumentations in songs like “Taste of India” and experimenting with different genres (The Beatlesesque “The Farm” the almost Punk “Crash”) were all intriguing endeavors for a band that had totally played it safe on the last album. The problem is, they went a bit too far.

As far as “Taste of India” goes, the experiment worked. Utilizing Indian instruments, adding thick production, and providing a tongue-in-cheek humor layered throughout creates a cool dichotomy. That cheekiness is successfully carried over to the album’s two biggest hits “Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)” and “Pink,” both of which are great songs that poke fun in all the right places while providing great musical backdrops in which to frame them. They tried to diversify the remaining nine songs and make everything sound different, but as I’ve said before different doesn’t always mean good. As Aerosmith experimented with new sounds, they risked losing their own and by the end of most of tracks, it felt almost as if they were simply trying too hard. Ballads like “Hole in My Soul” and “Fallen Angels” are right on the edge of being great, but either they didn’t quite have enough behind them, or they have way too much in front of them. The majority of this album’s songs run for over four or even five minutes (“Fallen Angels” clocks in at over eight), and there’s really no reason for it except for to repeat the chorus lines over and over again. Sure if works for Daft Punk, but when your choruses are as drab as “Kiss Your Past Goodbye” or “Something’s Gotta Give” it all gets old way too quickly. In the promotion for this album Steven Tyler claimed that it was somewhere in between Toys in the Attic and Rocks. Respect the classics, Dude.

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