Review Summary: While Alice in Chains reminded us that grunge is not dead, the Stone Temple Pilots are reminding us why we forgot about them in the first place.
From the inauguration of the band’s existence in 1992, the Stone Temple Pilots have been perceived as a sort of underappreciated group; an unnecessary ember in a fire that had consumed the early 1990’s rock scene. The Stone Temple Pilots likely hopped on the grunge bandwagon a year too late, for Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Soundgarden had already released monster records. While immensely successful, Core
was not widely accepted by the general public, due to the band’s alleged similarities to the “Big Four.” Lead singer Scott Weiland was blasted for his seemingly inconsolable desire to be Eddie Vedder, and the band was subsequently coined as “Pearl Jam rip-offs” despite irreparable differences between the groups. Needless to say, the Stone Temple Pilots developed into a respected and relatively successful mainstream group, even if the group was unable to escape the criticism that had inevitably pigeonholed them.
It has been nine years since the release of Shangri-La-Dee-Da
, which had been the most disparaged Stone Temple Pilots album to date. At this time, it became apparent that the band had been suffering from a lack of chemistry, most likely spurred on by Weiland’s reckless substance addiction. A greatest hits record Thank You
, in 2003 pinpointed the time frame in which the members went their separate ways. Weiland remained relevant when he joined ex-Guns ‘N’ Roses components to form Velvet Revolver; an overhyped project that received mixed results to say the least, but doing further damage to Weiland’s already toiled reputation. The Stone Temple Pilots reunion just this past year was not unlike the reformation of grunge contemporary Alice in Chains, for both groups had been out of commission for some time. 2009 saw Alice in Chains come roaring back with Black Gives Way to Blue
, a miraculous return to form album for a band that needed to replace a lead singer. Unfortunately, the Stone Temple Pilots comeback is nothing of this sort. In fact, it should have been easier.
With Stone Temple Pilots
it appears that Weiland and crew have opted to infuse elements of classic rock into the music, having reminiscence of bluesy 70’s rock and 80’s glam rock. With that said however, the record does not waver much from typical STP from a musical standpoint, utilizing massive riffs and smooth transitions. There are a few instances of atypical instrumentation, the most obvious being “Huckleberry Crumble,” a bluesy track that dangerously parallels Aerosmith. Lead single Between the Lines
points to the contrary, making excellent use of a powerful riff and fitting leads which would not be out of place on Tiny Music...Songs From the Vatican
. Remaining in familiar territory for the most part, the instrumentation proves to be the saving grace of the record to an extent.
Scott Weiland’s issue with his drug addictions has always been a direct reflection of his music; at times lacking emotion or a formidable presence. Stone Temple Pilots
reveals a very detached Weiland, as if he doesn’t even care. What is worse, is that sub-par songwriting has created these pedestrian or just plain terrible choruses, that don’t seem to generate any sort of interest from the listener. Between the Lines
epitomizes the album in this regard, with Scott singing “I like it when we talk about love, I like it when you talk about love, you were always my favorite drug, even when we used to take drugs.”
Sure enough, the track has already been an immense commercial success, giving indication that a few others should soon follow suit. Don’t let that fool you however, because a high majority of Stone Temple Pilots
simply does not offer any substance and comes off as uninspired. The record’s only great track is the ultimate one in Maver
, a piano-laden, but lively ballad which showcases Weiland’s greatest vocal performance. The harmonies are simply outstanding, and the track itself releases the damper for at least its five minute duration.
This is no Alice in Chains-esque comeback. It is a rather lackluster effort from the Stone Temple Pilots who may never receive the credit that they merit. Stone Temple Pilots
is a dull attempt to rehash the acclaim of the glory days; Core
, and even Tiny Music…
, leading us to believe that the band should have remained on hiatus. STP should be concerned with preserving and even furthering their legacy, but the self-titled release does neither of those things. While Alice in Chains reminded us that grunge is not dead, the Stone Temple Pilots are reminding us why we forgot about them in the first place.