Record Review: Stone Temple Pilots, 'Stone Temple Pilots'

The Hype: Before the recent revival of Stone Temple Pilots, some may have been happy to let the band wander into the pages of rock-n-roll history. But nine years and several side projects after their underwhelming 2001 release, Shangri-La-Dee-Da, the grunge gods of yesteryear emerge wielding a brand new album with new influences from some old-ass bands. As far as their popularity is concerned, stumbling into today's music climate could be a gamble for STP. In any case, OC fans will be the first one's to judge the new live version of the new tracks when the band kicks off their summer tour with a performance at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on June 5.


The Judgment: It's weird to think that a band that came out in the '90s might be relegated to the stale realm of FM classic rock; it makes you realize just how old you're getting. But on the new self-titled release by Stone Temple Pilots (released yesterday in the U.S.), it sounds like the band can't get there fast enough. Calling on a bulletproof amalgam of rock titans from the 95.5 (KLOS-FM) program list, STP's new album is a victim of its own influences. Even when they try to just sound like themselves, a lot of times it just doesn't work out the way some fans might have hoped. 
One thing we've got to give the band credit for is their decision to avoid making this an emotionally heavy record filled with diary entries of despair and redemption from front man Scott Weiland. No one wants to hear that from them. Instead, they tailored a summer record filled with big riffs, easy-to-remember choruses and tons of overt musical reference points. From the opening track “Between the Lines” band makes an earnest attempt to pound your face in with formulaic riffs that you might find on any tire-screeching, action sports video game. Things get a little more interesting during “Take a Load Off” when the band travels into Blue Oyster Cult territory thanks to Wieland's convincing Eric Bloom vocal impression. 
If you're wondering when you actually get to hear something that resembles the STP you know and love, “Dare if You Dare” and “Hazy Daze” are about as good as it gets. It's the right amount of fist-pumping testosterone, brooding artistry and quality sound production. Other than that, it's a lot of David Bowie, Beatles and Aerosmith-inspired songs, showing that maybe the band didn't know quite how to approach their sound on this record. Nevertheless, they stay committed to throttling into almost every track with gusto. We've got to give them respect for that. But we can't help feeling like they're moving in the wrong direction.
Grade: C-

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