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Ace Frehley - Space Invader
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Label: eOne

Rating:
****1/2
out of
*****

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.

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 disc.

"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 former band.

"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 driving beat.

"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.    

As is 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.
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