Review Summary: A swing and a miss.
Last September, Alice in Chains released Black Gives Way to Blue
, and showed us that even '90s rock artists can pull off successful comeback records and sound pretty cool doing it. But for every Alice in Chains there's a Hole, who released a mediocre record in Nobody's Daughter
last month. Or a Marcy Playground, whose Leaving Wonderland… In a Fit of Rage
was noticed by approximately nobody. The Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist
was a middling effort with little replay value (and the two EPs they've released since then were awful). As for Creed, well… haha.
Stone Temple Pilots
falls into the latter camp, and for many of the same reasons. Black Gives Way to Blue
was a great album because Alice in Chains was inspired; not only did it give Jerry Cantrell and co. a chance to show that they were still relevant, but it also allowed them to pay homage to a fallen friend. It was a dark release, certainly a far cry from the hard rocking debauchery of a song like "Between the Lines", but it was meaningful all the same. I wouldn't expect Stone Temple Pilots to write an album as gloomy as Black Gives Way to Blue
for obvious reasons; they've never been that kind of band to begin with and they haven't gone through the same *** that Alice in Chains have. But half-assed references to the drugs they used to take (used to take) and swine flu really don't cut it. Stone Temple Pilots are on autopilot from the start, and a couple good songs spread out over a 41 minute runtime do little to deter from the feeling that the album is just kind of there.
Musically, Stone Temple Pilots
is very much Dean DeLeo's record. The mix is dominated by DeLeo's heavy guitar, which takes cues from the artists that influenced the band, especially '70s and '80s brand of hard rock. At times the results are kind of neat; the atypical "Cinnamon" hankers back to '60s guitar pop and makes for an excellent change of pace after the five dreary tracks that precede it. There are a couple groovy licks scattered here and there which are half decent, but otherwise it's a tepid exercise in mediocrity difficult to even feign interest in.
For what it's worth, the album is rarely terrible. The band's only truly awful moments come during forays into bluesy rock (think Aerosmith) in "Huckleberry Crumble" or through Scott Weiland's unbearably obnoxious swagger in "Hickory Dichotomy". But it isn't good enough that Stone Temple Pilots
isn't terrible. It isn't good enough that Weiland sounds kind of cool conjuring grunge vocalists of old in the chorus of "Take a Load Off". It isn't good enough that songs like "Peacoat" or "Hazy Daze" are only enjoyable if you try hard enough to like them. It isn't good enough that this isn't Velvet Revolver (though that is a huge plus). Point is, the album isn't without positives. But these moments do little to make up for the utter lack of inspiration on the part of Stone Temple Pilots. And until they can demonstrate the kind of imagination that has fuelled successful resurgences in the past, Stone Temple Pilots will be hard pressed to breakout of the half-baked reunion phase.