Review - Psycho Circus

Artist: KISS

Psycho Circus
Label: Mercury
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Psycho Circus

In a show-biz gesture only Ringling Bros. might fully endorse, the newly reunited ringmasters of rock attempt to satisfy ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages with "Psycho Circus," a radio-ready carnival that too infrequently harkens back to KISS' shock-rock heyday.

Save for a handful of old-style stompers, most of the record is an unfocused melange of Beatles-esque psychedelia, '80s hair-metal, pseudo-grunge and sub-"Beth" piano balladry, turned out by what sounds like a supporting sideshow of session musicians. Their presence makes the record's status as a reunion disc a scam of Barnum-like proportions, even though the "returning" Ace Frehley and Peter Criss fuel the hilariously ironic, group-therapy bitch-fest "You Wanted the Best."

The nearly absent Frehley -- the only member who still seems to prefer working without a net -- performs the one feat of derring-do on the goofy romp "Into the Void." Any circus has its high and low moments, but this one makes you sit through too many trained-pigeon acts while you wait for the fire-eaters you paid to see.