Ace Frehley - Anomaly
Bronx Born Records
Hard Rock
12 songs (55:51)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Phil

Ace Frehley has returned from outer space! His cosmic voyage is over, and he's finally ready to rock out for earthlings once again. Good old Ace, it’s really hard to be against him. He kind of reminds me of my crazy uncle. He's pretty messed up and a lot weird, but, at the same time, he's a pretty cool dude. Though he's had his ups and downs in life, I always find part of myself rooting for him from afar.

That said, if first impressions are the most important, then Anomaly is in trouble. The first song, Foxy and Free, is energetic, but it is loaded to the gills with cringe-worthy lyrics. I guess the idea was to hit listeners square in the jaw with a tough, rock opener, but the atrocious lyrics ended up completely distracting me from the music. Outer Space is a heavier number that features a mean little rock riff. Lyrically, the premise of the song is that Ace actually came from outer space. For some strange reason, I completely believe that hypothesis. Pain in the Neck has a bouncy 1980s L.A. rock feel, including Ace’s pouty vocals. It’s a catchy number, and the strange interlude with sung vocals before the guitar solo is quite unique. Fox on the Run is one of my personal favorites. It’s a sloppy little rocker that is reminiscent of New York pre-punk. There’s a good bit of classic swagger to the song, and it is easy to hear echoes of Johnny Thunders and the New York Dolls.

Genghis Khan is an ambitious, six-minute track. A 40 second guitar intro leads into a stomping, roots rock chord progression that sticks for most of the song. The only lyrics in the song are, “So long Genghis Khan, now you’re gone, so looonnnnnng.” I’m hoping Ace hasn’t just learned of Mr. Khan’s passing. From what I remember, it happened a while ago. Too Many Faces is a disturbing track. The song itself is catchy enough with a bright, spunky beat. But the lyrics tell of the faces that Ace regularly sees in he mirror. What’s spooky is that they’re all looking back at Ace! It sounds to me like Ace needs an exorcist, psychotropic medicine and a high-priced therapist. Change the World is a schlocky, poppy song with a positive type message. His sentiment seems sincere enough, but you’ll still have to color me a little unconvinced with this one. On Space Bear, Ace channels his inner Zeppelin cover band. The rough and ready blues riff is pounding and powerful. Thankfully, Ace skips the lyrics here, so there’s nothing to distract from the strong musical performances.

Next up is an old-fashioned acoustic ballad. A Little Below the Angels is obviously about Ace’s past alcohol consumption. This tune has a ton of revealing lyrics that communicate more clearly than I ever thought Ace could. I appreciate the truth and emotion of the song so much that I didn’t even grimace when an all-girl choir chipped in for some vocals at the end. Yep, consider me charmed. Sister is an intense song that features a punchy little riff. This song might go a little long, but the guitar solo is nice. With It’s a Great Life, I’m a little torn. Though the song is trite, it is completely brimming with conviction. Also, I gotta admit, the chorus is pretty catchy. Though I may cringe at certain parts, I’m having a hard time being mean about it. The album closes with another six-minute instrumental, Fractured Quantum. There’s lots of acoustic guitar and airy leads here.

Honestly, I think Ace surpassed all of my expectations with this album. Based on the Ace stories from the KISS reunion and his semi-literate video blogs, I was truly expecting a complete stinker. Instead, I got a pleasant little rock album with a decent number of good tunes. It should be interesting to see how it stands up when compared to KISS' new album.

Killing Songs :
Fox On the Run, Space Bear, A Little Below the Angels
Phil quoted 83 / 100
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