Review Summary: A fitting beginning for one of Grunge's greater late-arrivals.
If the Stone Temple Pilots' major-label debut "Core" had come before the likes of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, or Alice in Chains, it would have dodged the onslaught of critical dispraise that trailed it through its commercial success. There is a clear knack within STP for turning songs into catchy arena-rock, and that is their edge over their big brother bands. This handy skill is responsible for the album's handful of 20-year radio-rock staples. "Dead and Bloated," "Sex Type Thing," "Wicked Garden," "Creep," and "Plush," are all singles that are well-known and enjoyed by the vast majority of modern-rock fans that were, at the latest, born in the 90s.
While "Core's" singles are exemplary of master songcraft, there are plenty of valid reasons critics choose to attack the album so persistently. Grunge stole the hearts and attention of hard rock fans so quickly with its handful of founders churning out top-notch albums every two years. By the time of "Core's" release, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains had each put out two studio albums at least. Simultaneously, Pearl Jam and Nirvana had each made their debuts and turned Grunge mainstream. Obviously all of these releases set the bar fairly high, and "Core" only wanders near it on the singles. The rest of the album is good, but almost none of it is anything that hadn't already been done at the time. Don't let this become too upsetting. The whole album is a smooth listen, but songs like "Naked Sunday" and "Piece of Pie" lack any major hook and aren't easy to defend past the point of "decent track." On tracks like "Sin" and "Crackerman" STP milks catchy hooks but in a cliche` manner that makes you wonder why you don't just listen to something more original. Nevertheless, they are great songs that could use just a little more ambition.
When it comes down to weighing the good and the bad however, you may find that "Core" is better than a lot of albums in your collection. Minus the two filler tracks, the album holds ten full songs. Five of these songs are the phenomenal singles, and five are all plain and simple good grunge songs. Nothing is bad or tough to tolerate, and as a whole, the album plays out well. The central complaint is that the five non-singles lack inventiveness strong enough to firmly distinguish STP outside of their radio relationships. Overall, the Stone Temple Pilots' debut is half superb, and half good, averaging it at great. Thankfully in the future, they secure their true role in Grunge and alternative rock on records such as "Purple" and "Tiny Music.."