The first Stone Temple Pilots album in nine years is utterly inessential in every way save one: It proves that listlessness emits a low, rattling sound just audible enough to be captured on tape. Other than that, Stone Temple Pilots is best approached as a case study in what happens when faded superstar rock bands held together only by a lack of better career options decide to swallow their pride and make a record. Coming after a massive, headline-grabbing tour in 2008 marred by in-fighting and Scott Weiland’s walking train-wreck act—and the equally massive shrug that greeted Weiland’s ludicrous solo record “Happy” In Galoshes later the same year—Stone Temple Pilots reeks of a contractual obligation in the transparent guise of the “we’re back and better than ever!” reunion album. As an excuse for STP to once again pack arenas full of graying Gen-Xers, it doesn’t justify itself nearly as well as the band’s underrated battery of mid-’90s hits. At best, fans may come to appreciate Stone Temple Pilots as soundtrack for countless trips to the bathroom at future shows.
As a stab at recreating past glories, Stone Temple Pilots deserves some credit for attempting to replicate the rubbery, pop-conscious hard rock of 1994’s Purple; its “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song” made STP the leading purveyors of bubble-grunge. (As opposed to the dunderheaded misogyny of its 1992 debut, Core.) If only Stone Temple Pilots had the same soaring, indestructible choruses: “Dare If You Dare” crosses the line from Mott The Hoople tribute to full-on impersonation, while the annoyingly repetitive power-pop of “Cinnamon” quickly wears out its welcome. On “Between The Lines,” Weiland resorts to exploiting his own tabloid past, singing “You were always my favorite drug / Even when we used to take drugs,” in an apparent nod to his failed marriage. Unfortunately, rhyming “drug” with “drugs” sums up the level of invention and effort here.