The Lowdown: Faced with a crossroads after the deaths of their two famed lead singers (Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington), the DeLeo brothers and drummer Eric Kretz opt to endure, recruiting former X-Factor runner-up Jeff Gutt for a collection of new material that attempts to honor the band’s hard-rocking legacy while simultaneously pointing towards a new beginning.
The Good: There’s some decent rock music to be found here; in particular, single “Meadow” chugs along on the power of Dean DeLeo’s soloing prowess and Gutt’s willingness to just impersonate Axl Rose. However, the most interesting parts of the record are probably the least STP-like; ballads like “Thought She’d Be Mine” and “The Art of Letting Go” veer into bittersweet power pop territory and give the band an easy blueprint for how to differentiate this new era from the old.
The Bad: You won’t find any of the half-fried poetics that made songs like “Vasoline” and “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” into radio hits. Instead, the majority of Stone Temple Pilots falls back on butt-rock platitudes and faceless riffs that could’ve been written any time in the last 30 years. Nothing’s outright terrible, but plenty of these tracks simply feel unnecessary. In a way, that’s almost worse.
The Verdict: For many fans, Scott Weiland was Stone Temple Pilots, and his departure and death (along with the death of Bennington) effectively ended the band as they knew it. Diehards and optimists out there will likely see this new record as an honest attempt to process that loss through renewed creation while cynics will probably just regard it as a lucrative excuse to keep touring on the power of songs from 1996. No matter which side you’re on, you’ll likely agree: while this new self-titled album may point to a band dedicated to writing a new chapter for itself, the music they’ve made here only acts as the tentative (and skippable) introduction.
Essential Tracks: “Meadow”, “Thought She’d Be Mine”, and “The Art of Letting Go”