KISS, Music From The Elder
Why critics thought it sucked: Critics hated KISS to begin with. Throw a pretentious, half-baked concept into the mix (complete with an orchestra!) and you can just about guess how they reacted to it.
Why it doesn’t suck: Because it’s actually completely charming. I avoided this one for years because of its reputation, and when I finally heard it, I fell madly in love with it. If you come in expecting head-pummeling hard rock (as you often would if you were reaching for KISS) you’re gonna be disappointed. If you come in looking for idiosyncratic, interesting songwriting, you’re gonna love stuff like the cute (yes, cute) “Just A Boy,” or the gorgeous-if-slightly-corny “Odyssey,” or the English-folk based “Under The Rose,” or the really quite pretty “A World Without Heroes.” And there’s plenty of rock here, too, like Ace’s magnificent “Dark Light,” Gene’s menacing “Mr. Blackwell” or the potent, riffy “I.” Sure, it doesn’t hold together as a concept, and it’s probably not what anybody in the universe wanted out of KISS, but the end result is actually a completely likable record. My favorite bit: the goofy spoken-word stuff in “Finale” which is supposed to tie the story together but leaves you thinking “shit, there was a story?” Good news: a movie based on the album is coming. Can’t wait.
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