It’s customary for a band with any considerable longevity to go through some ups
and downs. But, when both vocalists for the band die within a two-year span just
prior to the group’s 30th anniversary, it’s beyond an anomaly. Which is exactly the
case for Stone Temple Pilots.
Despite such circumstances, STP has bounced back from the deaths of former front men Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington to release a new album, the first in eight years and the second consecutive self-titled release.
The opener, “Middle of Nowhere” builds up exuberantly in the intro. The verse has the quartet sounding as if nothing has changed in the slightest with Dean DeLeo’s muddy blues-rock tone. New vocalist Jeff Gutt’s efforts are a near-perfect match for the vocal style fans have come to know. It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between him and Weiland.
Things remain upbeat with “Guilty” a more groove-based tune. Robert DeLeo shines here with his fuzzy bass line.
“Meadow” is the LP’s first single. This one is much more digital sounding than what’s
usual of STP, but it’s still a fine fit among the singles of the past. “Just a Little Lie” is
the most standout track thus far with its psychedelic chorus effects and peculiar guitar solo.
One can only assume that “Six Eight” is titled after the song’s time signature. Gutt displays his melody capabilities atop brash and attention-grabbing instrumentals.
The mood slows for the first time on the album on “Thought She’d Be Mine.” Primarily an acoustic composition, it conveys a vibe that will likely appeal to those with an affinity for surf rock. There’s also a bit of a surprise here as the outro fades out with notes from a xylophone.
“The Art of Letting Go” shows signs of tribute to the fallen band mates. “I hope to see your smile again. But some day’s far too long of a road.” The overall melancholic nature of its composition is telling as well.
The record ends in bipolar fashion with “Reds and Blues” with its dark verses and cheerful choruses.
Overall, there’s little on this LP that could be considered experimental in relation to other STP releases. Dean DeLeo seems to be trying out some different effects in his rig and dynamically speaking, the mix sounds considerably louder this time.
The group doesn’t seem to be focused on a different direction, and that’s perfectly fine. The point of Stone Temple Pilots having a new album is to let fans know they’re still here making the same style of music and for the most part, they’re still the same band.