Chris Cornell: Scream
Scream is an album crying out to be made into a drinking game. The rules are simple: Take a long sip of beer every time Chris Cornell’s voice—one of the most instantly recognizable in rock, mostly from his days fronting Soundgarden—is sent through an effects box, and have a shot every time he screams through it. By the time it’s half over, anyone following those instructions will be so blotto that Cornell’s collaboration with Timbaland might actually start sounding decent. Everyone else will be stuck with this hourlong, glutinous lump of nothing. The problem with Scream isn’t that Cornell is too much of an artist to go pop, it’s that the fit is so unbecoming. Timbaland was once pop’s greatest producer, but the stops he pulls out here seem to have come from the bottom of his leftover drawer. Most of these tracks are a characterless collection of digital twinkles, time-keeping synth-strings, beats that neither surprise nor get in your feet, and enough layers of vocal processing to make even T-Pain roll his eyes. And having every song segue directly into the next does not help Scream’s rampant facelessness. As for Cornell himself, the material makes the deservedly forgotten likes of Euphoria Morning seem as timeless as Soundgarden’s Superunknown. “I should have left that side of town a long time ago,” cyber-Cornell laments on “Other Side Of Town.” He could be talking about this album.