Trust a band as immodest as Kiss to write a concept album about themselves. The Fall and Resurrection of Kiss would have been a more accurate title for this, the group's first studio album with the original lineup in 18 years. Peter Criss and Ace Frehley sing about the personal demons that led them to leave the band. Gene Simmons writes a song, You Wanted the Best (sung by all four members, a Kiss first), about the infighting that split the original group and the reasoning that led to its reunion. And Paul Stanley's songs regularly refer to last year's triumphant Kiss and Makeup tour with lines such as: "Been broken down but not defeated/I kept on punching back 'til I succeeded." Besides contributing to Kiss' self-mythology, Psycho Circus should also extend the group's current winning streak. Stanley's songs are anthemic, fist-pumping things that'll sound great in concert; Criss' vocal number is a pretty, string-sweetened ballad in the mould of Beth, and Frehley's sole songwriting contribution is the catchiest pop song here. The album only falters during the leaden Simmons-penned tracks, but not seriously enough to prevent Psycho Circus from being Kiss' finest outing since Love Gun. It's in stores Tuesday.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5