The Take Off and Landing of Everything
Band of Skulls
It's interesting that Stone Temple Pilots would release a self-titled album nearly 20 years into their career (following a lengthy hiatus, of course). Funny then, that it's the album where they sound the least like themselves. Of course this is a band that has continuously evolved and toyed with new styles from album to album, but they've never sounded like they were deliberately mimicking other artists as much as they do here. Vocalist Scott Weiland and other members have talked about this album having a heavy '60s vibe, and they weren't kidding. However there's also plenty of big '70s arena rock and hints of blues and glam thrown in too, yet very little of the '90s alternative that STP are known for. There's the obvious Beatles-inspired cuts like "Bagman" (which also may remind you of the "Batman" theme song, given how Weiland sings the title), while "Huckleberry Crumble" perfectly duplicates Aerosmith's groovy swagger. There's dashes of Cheap Trick, Zeppelin and The Doors as well, and if Weiland wasn't trying to sound just like Bowie on penultimate track "First Kiss On Mars", I'll stop writing about music.
Those observations aside, however, this album still brings some truly excellent stuff to the table. Weiland is in fine form throughout, sounding much more comfortable here than he ever did in Velvet Revolver, while Robert DeLeo remains one of the most underrated and creative bassists in rock music. Yet it's guitarist Dean DeLeo who might be the MVP of this album, contributing a slew of meaty riffs and a few rip-roaring solos. The breezy pop-rock of "Cinnamon" and the piano-assisted closer "Maver" are sleeper highlights, but the truth is if you can deal with all of the heavy-handed influences, there's plenty of good music here. Stone Temple Pilots may be having an identity crisis, but they can still show you a pretty good time.