Stone Temple Pilots still in the woods on their comeback record
By JOSHUA LIEBERSON
STATIC and FEEDBACK correspondent
Do you remember 1994?
Perhaps the watershed year of "alternative rock"/"grunge rock"/"modern rock"/"whatever label you want to use rock" of the early 1990s. On the heels of the tragic death of Kurt Cobain, bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots appeared to be the torch bearers for the stuck-in-a-rut youth that clung to rock music as their outlet for their frustrations and dissatisfaction with the real world lurking ahead.
That year, Purple was released, and it was an album I didn’t put down for a long time. "Vasoline,” "The Big Empty,” "Interstate Love Song” and many others rocked and swayed, and as much as any other band at the time, they had it, whatever that was.
Years and experience really took a toll on Stone Temple Pilots and Scott Weiland. After Tiny Music... Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, the band went through one of its many breakups, never to recapture the power and urgency of their first few albums. Scott Weiland had a number of failed solo albums and hit mediocrity at best with Velvet Revolver. The rest of the band members tried various incarnations under forgettable monikers (Army of Anyone and Talk Show come to mind). In the midst of all that, they managed one last Stone Temple Pilots album in 2001, Shangri La-Dee-Da, an album I spun once and found completely unlistenable. I never opened the jewel case again.
After nine years, Stone Temple Pilots have released a new, self-titled album. My hopes were that they would essentially erase that lost decade, and return to form, or at least release something worth repeat listens and an investment in future albums. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen. The lead single, "Between the Lines," sounds cliche, complete with an awkward ode to Nirvana's "Stay Away.” The rest of the album gets no better. "Huckleberry Crumble,” as well as at least half of the albums tracks, make them sound like a cheap cover band of ’70s Aerosmith (note: I am actually a fan of ’70s Aerosmith, but where their riffs and hooks had tremendous life, STP’s falls flat and boring). The poppier tracks on this album, particularly "Cinnamon" and "First Kiss On Mars" could have potential if Weiland wasn't getting in their way.
The saddest part of this new release is that if it were a complete train wreck (see Nick Tavares’ review of Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy for reference), at least it would look like they tried. Instead, Stone Temple Pilots have provided us with another bland and unlistenable album that essentially cashes in on their '90s heyday.