It's hard to believe that it’s 28 years since Stone Temple Pilots arrived with their brilliant debut album, Core – and the almost instant slings and arrows fired at them as ‘grunge bandwagon jumpers’ – especially and memorably in a Rolling Stone piece so vitriolic that you had to suspect some sort of whipping-boys agenda rather than it being honest opinion.
Obviously the band cared, although they needn’t have; enough people were smitten by Core and follow-up Purple for Stone Temple Pilots to sell a ton and convert many original naysayers. Both were full of great songs and powerful performances.
Twenty-eight years, seven albums (latterly patchy but with flashes of real quality) and the death of original vocalist Scott Weiland behind them, STP’s new album will, on first listen, surprise and likely disappoint some fans of the band’s hard, power-chord-driven delivery and overall oomph. Basically because there isn’t any of it here.
On Perida (Spanish for ‘loss’) there isn’t a power chord in sight; in fact the electric guitars spent the vast majority of the recording sessions collecting dust in their racks, while the four-pice made a mostly light-touch, airy, virtually acoustic collection.
Crucially, there are plenty of identifiably STP-signature chord changes (just one being Three Wishes, with its whiff of Pretty Penny), and melodically (notably the beautifully written I Didn’t Know The Time, which closes with a wonderful wistful flute solo).
Exuding a melancholic, longing feel – both musically and lyrically – but without sounding at all gloomy, it’s a record focused sharply on looking back, recalling times good and bad, some to be cherished and some best forgotten. It's an album of lost love, old friends, mistakes made, opportunities lost, promise unfulfilled, all delivered in slow to mid-paced tempos and often permeated with a Spanish feel.
This taste of Spain is at its sweetest on the title track which – and this is far from being a criticism – is something you wouldn’t be surprised to hear winning the Eurovision Song Contest.
Elsewhere, Years is a light and bright, summery-feel lost-love song. She’s My Queen, with another elevating flute solo, is similarly understated, with parse instrumentation of acoustic guitars and light percussion.
Miles Away, with its yearning gypsy violin, has something of the Eastern European folk song about it, while Jeff Gutt’s voice, in terms of timbre and phrasing, is at times similar to the late Scott Weiland, the singer he replaced. Every track has quality in one form or another.
While on first listen Perida will surprise some STP fans and disappoint others. It’s an album that with repeated listens could well come to be seen by many as being among the band’s best.