Stone Temple Pilots visit the past
After hearing the first four songs on the new Stone Temple Pilots self-titled album, it seems pretty clear that the band has made a solid and seamless return after their nine-year hiatus. The slick radio hit, “Between the Lines” starts the set, which quickly leads into a classic STP on “Take a Load Off” and a cool foray into ‘70’s glam rock (ala Bowie and Aerosmith) with “Huckleberry Crumble” and “Hickory Dichotomy.” The problem is that the record is never this good again. “Dare If You Dare,” is decent but the chorus is horribly cheesy, and “Cinnamon” is sugary enough to cause a cavity. “Hazy Daze,” “Bagman,” and “Peacoat” are a trio of foggy rockers that never really go anywhere.
The main problem here is the band’s failure to settle on a format. STP’s major period of change came early in their career when they altered their format from a hard-hitting grunge sound found on their 1992 debut, Core, to a more pop-oriented sound found on the successors Purple and Tiny Music. It seems the band has never fully settled on a firm format since. Their records since 1996’s Tiny Music have tried to merge a dark grunge sound with more introspective 60’s-era pop songs, and they’ve come up with a mixed bag each time out. After the break, Weiland and the DeLeo brothers are obviously trying to recapture a sound through their influences. The afore-mentioned “Hickory Dichotomy” and “Huckleberry Crumble” come off sharp enough for the listener to know that they’re still listening to STP, where other songs are so derivative that Scott Weiland begins altering his voice (he sounds like he’s doing Bowie karaoke on “First Kiss on Mars”).
Stone Temple Pilots will probably not go down into the annals alongside Purple or Tiny Music. It’s more appropriate fitting would be somewhere in the candy land between No. 4 and Shangri La Dee Da. On a positive note, they have shown with this release that they can produce their own music as well as Brendan O’Brien, who handled the production on all of their previous records. The spark is still in the band, and there is no doubt that they can still go the distance as they did on their first three albums, which are all ‘90’s classics now. Let’s hope this is just a warm-up.
Grade: C +