Can you believe it has been two decades since Ace Frehley released a solo album? I still remember rocking out to "Rock Soldiers" (from "Frehley's Comet") on cassette, although I barely remember "Trouble Walkin'" aside from the cover of "Do Ya". That said, "Anomaly" is a welcome return from KISS' King of Cool, the guy whose solos have a way energizing any song.
"Anomaly" is a Frehley album through and through, meaning that it comes with his distinctive style of songwriting, fat solos, and the New York swagger he brings with his vocals and general presence. But it is not a one trick pony either. There are a handful of meaty 'n catchy tunes like "Foxy & Free" (with a few JIMI HENDRIX references thrown in), the rather ('70s-era) KISS-like "Sister", and the surprisingly uplifting "It's a Good Life". Songs like "Outer Space", "Too Many Faces", and "Pain in the Neck" (with that weird riff/rhythm on the chorus that is just strange enough to stick in the memory) would seem ill-fitting if anyone else recorded them, but Frehley has a way of turning them into hip, muscular rockers, even if they aren't the stuff of platinum songwriting. His vocal approach on the melodic shuffle of "Change the World" during the verse is rather Lou Reed in delivery, albeit in a brighter and vibrant way. The cover of SWEET's "Fox on the Run" is a perfect fit for him, just as "Do Ya" was.
The instrumental pieces are fairly successful in that they don't come off as filler. Though "Genghis Khan" isn't a true instrumental, the lyrics consist of only of a couple lines repeated at various points; it's got a hot, mid-tempo groove and a great acoustic break. "Space Bear" borrows heavily from classic '70s blues-inflected rock and it just plain struts, while "Fractured Quantum" is a quieter piece with a simple, yet enduring melody.
Rounding out with a beautiful acoustic cut called "A Little Below the Angels", which deals with Frehley's battle with alcoholism and how he finally caught up with the light at the end of the tunnel, "Anomaly" is nothing more than a solid American rock album. It is not as though the disc is destined for Grammy-level acclaim; it is a simply matter of a legend playing it like he feels it. The disc will leave a smile on the face of fans that have waited a long time for the follow up to "Trouble Walkin'".