Born from gutter doll image of The Runaways, Lita Ford may be America's closest thing to a hard rock queen. Now she's become America's self-declared bondage and fetish queen. Fifteen years from her last recording, Ford invites us into her Wicked Wonderland, a self-described autobiography of her fetish and bondage sexual proclivities with her husband and collaborator Jim Gillette. Where sadomasochistic goth aficionados or lame fetish pretenders like Marilyn Manson can only dream of going, Lita and hubby expose us to their crazy and degenerate lifestyle without blush or remorse. Authenticity has never been more revealing and, well, dull. Lust and love dovetail with salacious ease as Ford wants to Crave, Scream, and Love in the Bed. However, even when Ford and Gillette attempt to justify their bondage brand of couplehood on Sacred, its sounds contrived and unbelievable. Somehow imagining the 50-something Lita Ford in black leather, high heels, and cuffs spread across a bed of silk sheets and blackened rose petals is not a picture I want swimming in my mind. But I'm sure there are plenty who have been dreaming of this since 1975.
Oddly enough (but then maybe not), because of the racy lyrical content, the music of Wicked Wonderland will probably go unexamined or, more likely, unnoticed. Where Lita Ford was known as one to take hard rock and turn it on its head with catchy melodic hooks, this album seems more experimentation in industrial rock with all of its synths and sampling. If it were not for some zippy guitar work on songs like Wicked Wonderland, Scream, or Bed, for example, one might pass this off as second rate White Zombie or Powerman 5000.
If I had never heard Lita Ford before, from a listen to Wicked Wonderland I would not believe her to be the great female rocker of yesterday's fame. Love and Betrayal (an not so unlikely combination) may be the closet thing to quintessential Lita. Ultimately, as often as the music can be addictively clever and could quite possibly grow on you, it's hardly compelling. With its faux metal coating and weird fetish cliches, Wicked Wonderland turns in on itself to become more black comedy or parody than accomplishment.
With its faux metal coating over modern industrial rock and weird fetish cliches, Wicked Wonderland turns in on itself to become more black comedy or parody than accomplishment.