Five years after his last album, Anomaly, Ace Frehley, the former lead guitarist of KISS, is back with a brand-new solo record: Space Invader. And I’m happy to report that Ace’s new album should please most fans of the legendary guitarist. What you’ll find here is meat-and-potatoes rock and roll. While it isn’t without its faults, I find this album to be superior to Anomaly and reminiscent of his 1989 album, Trouble Walkin’. With Space Invader, Ace didn’t try to pander to the critics or be something he isn’t. He’s simply set out to create a kick-ass rock and roll record: Mission accomplished.
Space Invader will be released on August 19. Until then, check out my track-by-track review of the album below:
- From the opening riff of this song, it’s clear that Ace is back and he means business. The guitar on this song, especially the blistering solo, is impressive. Ace clearly hasn’t lost a step. This song sets a great tone for what’s to come.
“Gimme A Feelin'”
- This song, which is the lead single off the album, is even better than the first song because of its melodic qualities. My only complaint is that this version of the song, the radio edit, is eight seconds shorter than the single version, meaning it abruptly fades away before you can hear Ace say, “You drive me fuckin’ nuts!” To me, this really kills the energy of the song.
“I Wanna Hold You”
- The next track, “I Wanna Hold You,” keeps things moving at a fast pace. Between the rhythmic drums, memorable chorus and fun melody, it’s the perfect way to cap off the one-two-three punch opening to this album, and it’s one of the best songs on Space Invader.
- Ace slows things down on “Change,” but this mid-tempo track has a nice groove. And the lyrics about self-empowerment provide a glimpse into Ace’s well-documented struggles with substance abuse and how he overcame them. This song could easily inspire those with similar demons who are trying to turn things around.
- At its heart, this song is a fun guitar riff with lyrics on top. It could have easily been an instrumental track and been just as impactful. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, it’s just more musically driven than lyrically driven, and it works.
- Another pleasant mid-tempo song, “Immortal Pleasures” is about Ace reflecting on the full life that he’s led. While it’s enjoyable, it isn’t one of my favorite tracks on the album.
“Inside The Vortex”
- Similar to how “Tough Love” and “Heart of Chrome” on the KISS album Revenge have a similar guitar melody, the same goes for “Inside The Vortex” and “Toys” on Space Invader, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising since Ace wrote both tracks by himself. It’s not a bad song, but by this point in the album I feel like I’ve already heard it, so this one is worth skipping.
“What Every Girl Wants”
- Considering Ace is 63 years old, hearing him sing “Now you’re lookin’ so tight, I’m gonna make you feel just right” is a tad disturbing. I’ve always believed that a musician’s lyrics should mature over time as, hopefully, they do. But both Ace and KISS don’t prescribe to this ideology. Nevertheless, if you ignore the questionable lyrics, it’s a fun little song that serves as a nice transition to the greatest track on Space Invader.
“Past The Milky Way”
- This is hands-down my favorite song on the album. At the beginning of the track, Ace dedicates it to his fiance, Rachael, and he sings about how he’d “sail past the Milky Way” to hold her in his arms. It’s a heartfelt, soulful song that’s got a great hook, a terrific groove and excellent guitar throughout. It’s an exceptional song.
- Another autobiographical track, I feel the same way about “Reckless” as I do about “Immortal Pleasures.” It’s a pleasant and enjoyable song but not one of my favorites.
- For those living under a rock, Ace Frehley does a superb job when it comes to covering other musician’s material. He first proved this in 1978 with his cover of “New York Groove,” which went on to be a Top 20 hit. I also love his interpretation of classic songs such as “Do Ya” and “Fox On The Run.” Now it’s time to add “The Joker” to the list because this song fits Ace like a glove. This rendition sounds like classic Ace while still maintaining the qualities that made the original a chart-topping hit.
- There’s a tradition with Ace Frehley albums, and that’s having an instrumental track at the end – the most famous being the four “Fractured” instrumentals, which clearly influenced the sound of this song. Considering the theme of this album, “Starship” is an appropriate name, and the track sounds awesome. Between the prominent bass guitar, the shoe-stomping rhythm and the Ace’s spectacular guitar playing, the album couldn’t have ended on a higher note. “Starship” is easily one of the strongest tracks on Space Invader.