When Ace Frehley exclaims, "I feel good!" at the beginning of "What Every Girl Wants", the eighth cut on his new album, Space Invader,
it's not hard to believe him. As he launches into what can only be
described as a classic Ace guitar solo on the same track, it's quite
obvious that he's happy, healthy, and comfortable doing what he was
born to do: play guitar.
Ace Frehley - Space Invader
Date: August 19, 2014
Space Invader is Ace's follow-up to 2009's Anomaly,
an album that found him trying out different styles on almost every
cut. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't. Here, Ace
sticks to the straight ahead rockers similar to the type he'd brought
to KISS albums in the 1970s.
The title cut kicks off the
album and does so with an admirable confidence. Proclaiming that
that he's here to "save us from light years away", the track is
immediately recognizable as a Frehley track. All the trademarks
are there: the melodic solo, the "I can't sing but I'm going to
try really hard" vocals, and the in-your-face sound. However, the
song has a contemporary feel to it and it wouldn't sound out of place
on current rock radio.
"Gimme A Feelin'", the first single,
follows and what it lacks in lyrical depth is made up for with the
catchy chorus. "I Wanna Hold You" and "Immortal Pleasures"
are solid, if unspectacular mid-tempo rockers. Ace gets back
into a more interesting direction with "Inside the Vortex," a stomping
blast of fuzzbox guitar that returns to the space travel theme of the
"Toys" possesses a KISS-like groove that would definitely
be a highlight on one of their more recent releases. However,
with Ace's unique vocal stylings, there's no mistaking it for his
"Change" is the one track on Space Invader that hearkens back to Anamoly in
that it finds Ace delivering a positive message about picking yourself
up and making a change in your life. It's the least "Ace-like"
song but it still works.
Co-written for Ace's fiancee, Rachel
Gordon, "Past the Milky Way" is a trippy kind of love song about
sailing through space while thinking of home. Originally written
as an instrumental, the track would sound great cranked up on a car
stereo on a long drive thanks to its plentiful guitar soloing and
"Reckless" is one of my favorite songs on the
album as it is immediately familar sounding but still remains unique.
Ace puts a bit of snark in his vocals and the production slathers
on some flange for the guitars. A great cut all around.
The only misstep on Space Invader
is an ill-advised cover of Steve Miller's "The Joker". While it's
definitely not a horrible version, Ace stays pretty close to the
original and doesn't really make it his own.
per usual with Mr. Frehley's albums, it closes with an instrumental.
Instead of another entry into the "Fractured Mirror" series, this
cut is entitled "Starship" and it contains a pleasant mixture of what
sounds like 12 string acoustic and electric guitars and still retains
the "Fractured Mirror" vibe.
Overall, it's hard to fault Space Invader. It's a classic sounding rock album that highlights Ace Frehley's strengths. Although I praised Anamoly for taking chances, there were a few cringe-worthy moments on that album. Space Invader is Ace at his best and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.