October 13, 2020 Tommy Lee – Andro (Album Review)
He has worked with everyone from Richard Marx to Post Malone, but you know Tommy Lee as the notorious bad-boy drummer of the Sunset Strip’s most infamous rockers, Mötley Crüe. Always a busy man, it has been 15 years since Lee’s last solo effort, Tommyland: The Ride, but he’s finally ready to unveil some new material with the highly-anticipated Andro. Better Noise Music delivers the cross-genre mayhem on Friday, October 16, 2020.
Let’s just be real here: one certainly does not question the drumming prowess of an icon such as Lee. So when, for his third solo LP and umpteenth recording, Lee invites an eclectic cast of talents to join him in the studio, we simply hunger for the outcome of these collaborations. Produced by Lee, the 13-song Andro delivers an effortless eclecticism that sees the multi-talented musician exploring everything from Hip Hop and Funk to Industrial and Dream Pop.
Andro kicks off to its heaviest moment, the Rap/Industrial Metal blend of “Knock Me Down.” Featuring Rapper and Multi-Instrumentalist Killvein, there’s an electronic vibe to the track that is somewhat reminiscent of Lee’s Methods of Mayhem, but it’s far from a clone. A promise of perseverance in the face of haters, Killvein and Lee, a fiercely inspired duo, create a fierce opener that promises good things to come.
A truly diverse yet fully cohesive collection, Andro now diverges to explore a million pathways of sound. This journey takes its first turn with the funky beat of “You Dancy” which, coupled with Nashville-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lukas Rossi’s sassy, falsetto vocals, brings to mind a fun Prince influence. Here, the lush layers are such an infectious good time that you’ll be tickled like Elmo. So you can rejoice even further when, several songs later, Rossi returns for a cover of Prince’s 1980 B-side “When You Were Mine.”
Other tracks are short injections of catchy sound; such is the case with the bratty Hip Hop of “Ain’t Tellin Me Nothing,” which features frenetic rhymes from PAV4N (a.k.a. Pavan Mukhi, formerly of Dubai’s Foreign Beggars). Similarly, the epic electronic beats of “SOMA COMA” actually manage to steal some of Lee’s thunder as British Rapper Shotty Horroh namechecks Boba Fett. All of this before the witticisms return on “Caviar on a Paper Plate,” another Hip Hop offering, and one that features the smooth lines of Mickey Avalon, who playfully claims to have never met a woman that he couldn’t offend. (Oh Mickey, that’s not so fine!)
The exceptional Killvein returns to front the ominous creep of “Leave Me Alone,” before the evil hum of “Demon Bitches” allows Los Angeles hardcore Pop iconoclast Brooke Candy, backed by Moonbounce (a.k.a. producer, songwriter and vocalist Corey Regensburg), to vomit verbal anarchy. Meanwhile, the beats outdo themselves on “Tops,” where South African spitfire Push Push writes sins (not tragedies) as Lee outdoes himself concocting a thick Afrobeat groove that will force you to move.
In fact, many of the most accessible offerings on Andro come to us via the ladies. Electro-Pop threesome PLYA, headed by the angelic voice of Julia Sykes, bring their Dream Pop splendor to “Make It Back,” while Singer-Songwriter King Elle Noir delivers two of the LP’s standouts—“P.R.E.T.T.Y.” and “Make This Storm.” The former is a lovely little bop which feels perfectly suited to the Top 40 Pop charts, and the latter offers up a luscious ‘90s R&B influence amid electric strings.
Ultimately, the album’s bonus track and lucky #13, “Tommy Lee,” combines all of the more refined Pop sensibilities from Andro with bold Hip Hop to sign the album off with a fun number that, at least sonically, leans toward the Pop-Punk feel of Tommyland: The Ride. Which, considering all of the explorations that occur throughout, says a lot about Lee’s ability to never apologize for where he’s been while he ferociously re-writes his future.
With all of these complexities noted, is Andro truly that shocking of an LP? If you’ve been a long-time fan of Lee, then the answer is pretty simple: No. An album that is as wildly diverse as the man himself, this is a work of passion that reflects Tommy Lee, the music lover, not Tommy Lee, the Rock-n-Roll drummer. Fluidly crossing genres and ignoring any established formulas—hell, even refusing to conscript collaborators solely for their star-power—Lee manages to show that good music is the universal love language.
In short, just in case you missed it: this is not a Rock record! And, as fellow music lovers, we’re perfectly okay with that. Thus, Cryptic Rock gives Andro 4 of 5 stars.