Once upon a time, Stone Temple Pilots were good. Very good, actually. Everyone agrees Core and Purple are quality records, and No. 4 belongs up there too, if you ask me, which you did, because this is my fucking website.
Perhaps it was the gradual, public disintegration of Scott Weiland that lent those records a sense of potency, of crackling energy and uncertainty. Maybe if you’re not even sure your lead singer will make it to the end of the session, never mind the day, without OD-ing or getting arrested, it prompts a capitalist mindset. Milk him for all he’s worth, lads, and fuck the consequences. He might be dead in a minute.
Brother reportedly got himself (mostly) sober back in 2002, though, and everything he’s done since has been fucking horrible. This record is absolutely no exception. What on earth do they think they’re playing at?
Wikipedia, the lazy man’s research tool of choice, indicates that Robert DeLeo has claimed a ‘60s vibe’ for this record. Presumably, he meant to invoke the likes of The Doors and Bowie, but it’s turned out more Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Honestly, my expectations were super-low to begin with, but even so, I am legitimately stunned by how shit this album is.
But should I be? It’s not like Shangri-La Dee Da was all of that, and I was never much of a fan of Tiny Music…, so it seems a shame that those are the records STP’s latest appears to be drawing most heavily from. Yet, I don’t hate anything on either of those records as much as I despise this one.
It’s obvious that STP have tried, once again, to thrust their melodic chops forward, as if they think they are The Beatles, a bit like Screaming Trees used to, except not remotely as good. In the process, like an ebola monkey sloughing out its large intestine through its rectum, they’ve lost something essential. There’s still a bit of crunch going on here, though, so it’s not that. Maybe it’s just their balls, or possibly their integrity.
Between the Lines, the first single, just appears to be a pastiche of Nevermind by Nirvana, crudely stitching together lumps of flesh off Stay Away and Drain You, then sticking it under lyrics that are offensively stupid even if you don’t share my histrionic standards of English. ‘You always were my favourite drug/Even when we used to take drugs’. I mean, really now.
Hazy Daze almost sounds like it has kicked off with some promise, sporting a dotty opening riff, and a bit of the fuzz and snarl that the record’s been missing. Much like Weiland, however, it ends up off the rails, squatting behind a skip doing an explosive liquid shit because it’s strung out and caught short. Peacoat sounds like he’s less channelling David Bowie, and more straight up ripping him off, and Hickory Dichotomy has got the shittest amalgamation of Joe Strummer and John Lydon ever attempted. Meanwhile, the last time I heard something as dreadful as Cinnamon, I think I was listening to one of Reef’s later albums.
And, just for a final spectacularly misjudged coup de grace, the deluxe edition of Stone Temple Pilots has a bonus live version of Vasoline, a tune that is genuinely one hundred fucking times better than the rest of this record combined. Perhaps it was intentional, and the entire album is an ironic satire. ‘Look how shit and contrived it is when old rock stars like us try to recapture their glory days,’ they are probably not saying. But still, perhaps absolutely everything is an ironic satire, including my own life, my own work, my own mind. Perhaps clinging to this transparently fictional notion is the only way I can remain sane, which I definitely am.