If you have to say you’re the nicest person in the world, chances are you are not. The same logic applies to the title of Aerosmith’s new album, “Music From Another Dimension!” That exclamation point might be the most misplaced punctuation in pop music this year.
The truth is, the album, which will be released on Tuesday, doesn’t need hyperbole to assert its greatness because the music is mostly thrilling in its own right.
Long in the making, with enough starts and stops to cause concern that it would ever be finished, “Music From Another Dimension!” is Aerosmith’s 15th studio album and first record of all-new material since 2001’s “Just Push Play.” It claims to come from outer space, right down to the sci-fi-inspired album cover, but really its touchstones are Aerosmith’s string of 1970s classics.
At 15 songs, this album roars with the urgency of a band trying to reclaim its supremacy. These guys knew they needed to hit hard, especially in the wake of frontman Steven Tyler’s elevated profile after a recent stint as an “American Idol” judge. (When he left the TV show earlier this year, he said it was partly to get back to his “first love.”)
To conjure some of the old magic, Tyler and gang brought back producer Jack Douglas, who first collaborated with Aerosmith on the group’s sophomore effort, 1974’s “Get Your Wings,” and went on to work on most of the band’s records from that decade. (Marti Frederiksen, who worked on “Just Push Play,” co-produced three of these new songs, too.)
With Douglas on board, Aerosmith keeps “Music From Another Dimension!” squarely focused on meaty riffs and the chemistry between Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry.
The band’s blues roots crop up on “Out Go the Lights,” the album’s most emblematic moment. With Tyler at his sleaziest (“liquor in the front, poker in the back,” anyone?), the band vamps hard behind him, but not too hard. Perry churns out some inspired guitar licks, and female backup singers add some sauce on the chorus. Then, after four minutes, Joey Kramer pounds out a drum beat that leads to something terrific: The song settles into a deep groove that unfurls for another two-and-a-half minutes.
Tyler sounds rebooted on the mike, wailing and squawking — particularly on “Oh Yeah” — like he never left 1975. Perry steps forward on “Freedom Fighter,” singing lead with backing vocals from Johnny Depp. (I don’t know why, either.)
Given the intensity and force of the all-out rockers, the ballads often sap the momentum. “We All Fall Down,” a Diane Warren special, is the gooey bookend to “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which, coincidentally, Warren also wrote.
Uplift is not Aerosmith’s specialty. Raunch is. And there’s plenty of it elsewhere, starting with the opening “Luv XXX.” When Tyler says you need to “love three times a day, there ain’t no other way,” he’s not talking about the kind of brotherly love you see at a soup kitchen.
It’s hard to keep the energy up over the course of an hour, and “Music From Another Dimension!” sags as expected. “Can’t Stop Loving You,” a duet with Carrie Underwood — not to mention a shameless stab at a crossover country hit — is amiable enough, but too diffused to make a lasting impression.
A touch of the Beach Boys lurk s in the close harmonies on “Another Last Goodbye,” the album’s one true surprise: a piano ballad shot through with Tyler’s cracked croon and symphonic flourishes. It’s overblown in a way that only Aerosmith could make work.
The band’s past is alive and well on this record, with several references to old glories. “Mama Kin” is mentioned on “Can’t Stop Loving You.” “Legendary Child” is the band’s history in four tidy minutes: We came from nothing, made some great records, crashed on drugs, but we’re still here and still kicking.
Which brings us back to that album title. If this is Aerosmith’s idea of music from another dimension, it’s certainly not the future. If anything, Aerosmith returning to the sound and fury of its ’70s halcyon days is a welcome time warp.
James Reed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.