Lita Ford
"Wicked Wonderland"

(JLRG Entertainment 2009)Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland

Sometimes you have to wonder when an album can actually be considered a comeback. Is simply not showing your face for an extended period of time enough to warrant the tag? Or can you dismiss a new record as a comeback if it doesn't live up to an artist's older material? It's something to keep in mind when considering the first Lita Ford album in fifteen years, "Wicked Wonderland."

Lita found success in both the Runaways in the late ‘70s and as a hair metal vixen in the ‘80s ("Kiss Me Deadly and "Close My Eyes Forever," a duet with Ozzy Osbourne, being huge smashes of the period) before grunge came along and derailed the entire hair metal scene. Ford soldiered on for a while, but following 1995's "Black," she decided to call it a day. Now she's back, armed with an entirely new sound, but it's hard to see her "comeback" album as anything but an unmitigated disaster.

Lita's about ten years behind the curve on getting this album out. "Wicked Wonderland" sounds like so much post-grunge, industrial-ish alterna-metal that was popular during the late ‘90s when nu-metal was at its zenith. The drums are a booming series of grating loops without personality or flair, and the guitars are simply chunking noise machines. The production does the music no favors; it's certainly loud and heavy but it renders everything murky, flat and two-dimensional, like an oil painting that's begun to melt and run together. The whole album is basically tuneless and soulless, and if it wasn't for the vocals it would be difficult to pick these songs apart. Lita is in good form, turning in a solidly edgy performance, but curiously, her husband Jim Gillette (of ‘80s rockers Nitro) takes up about half of the vocal duties.

Regardless of the quality of either singers voice, the lyrics that are coming out of their mouths...my God man, the lyrics. They're almost entirely concerned with Lita flaunting her sex appeal, detailing her fondness for dirty sex, or are single entendre come-ons. Some highlights: "Whips and chains/nice round hips/I show no mercy/but you love the tits," "Got my guitar play it loud as hell/when the boys watch me play their privates start to swell," and an uncomfortable echo of Trent Reznor with "I wanna feel you from the inside." Jesus wept. The whole album is like that, it's like having to listen to your peculiarly "open" aunt and uncle go into great detail about their bedroom habits.

It's puzzling to think that Lita Ford would think that this would be relevant or appealing, as this album could alienate fans that remember her fondly as ‘80s hairspray royalty, and this may have picked up new fans if it was released a decade ago. Lita will no doubt tour to support the album, making the festival rounds and whatnot. It's hard to imagine, though, crowd reaction to the new material being anything above tepidly polite. Hopefully that'll be a wake up call, and we'll be able to call the follow-up to "Wicked Wonderland" her real comeback.

D

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