After the tragic death of Scott Weiland, I (like many other STP fans) had no interest in new music from the band with a new singer, especially an X Factor contestant. The recruitment of Jeff Gutt just reeked of Rockstar INXS to me and it felt like a betrayal on the legacy of their enigmatic frontman. No one could replace Scott Weiland, surely?
But, look at it from their point of view. Dean and Robert Deleo, along with drummer Eric Kretz have a hell of a back catalogue, one that took them to the top of the charts back in the ’90s, and why should they not continue to write, record and tour as that band? Let’s face it, many bands have continued and even become more successful after the loss of their singer (AC/DC anyone?).
That said, I gave their last album a wide birth and had no interest in the band until word filtered through of an acoustic album they had recorded. Ever since their famous MTV Unplugged session back in 1993, it seems STP were destined to release an acoustic album, it was just a matter of when.
‘Perdida’ was self-produced by the band and recorded at Eric Kretz’ Bomb Shelter studios. Using vintage instruments and exploring themes of loss, death and goodbyes, (Perdida literally means loss in Spanish) the band has crafted an introspective album that sees them bare their souls, as they come to terms with the grief and sadness that has filled their lives in recent years.
Opener ‘Fare Thee Well’ is an uplifting, monumental song. Lyrically about lost love, yet full of sentiment and hope. The ghost of Scott Weiland is all over this track, Jeff’s vocals bare an uncanny resemblance, and there is no denying it. And it sort of makes me feel uncomfortable like I shouldn’t really be liking it…but I do, I really do, the hairs standing up on the back of my neck don’t lie.
Dean’s folk-inspired guitar intro leads to a heartbreaking melody that builds and builds to a glorious chorus, with almost gospel-tinged backing. The drums are powerful yet understated, giving a solid base for the instruments to breathe life into a song that is utterly beautiful after just one listen. It sets the tone for the album and sets the bar very high indeed.
With a ‘less is more’ approach to this album, the sparse arrangements create space and the rustic instrumentation is added only where needed to accentuate the songs. Here, the addition of flute, alt sax and guitarrone add another dimension to the STP sound.
The likes of ‘She’s My Queen’ could easily be a bombastic rock song with different production and arrangement, yet here stripped back to bare bones with open chords and lush harmonies, it shines.
‘Three Wishes’ could have sat nicely on the more experimental third album ‘Tiny Music..’. Dean’s signature slide guitar and Robert’s bass runs certainly hark back to that era of the band. Similarly, ‘I Didn’t Know The Time’ with its flute solo and jazzy, lounge feel is something the band has toyed with in the past and here it sits remarkably well.
Nylon string guitar takes precedence over the Spanish influenced title track, it comes on a bit too Euro-folk for its own good for me, but ‘Years’ with its lazy, sun-drenched California vibes, has an almost Beach Boys meets Simon and Garfunkel feel.
Big mention for the folky ‘Miles Away’ that flows on a killer vocal melody and swathes of mournful violin, giving a rustic Parisian feel, more in line with The Urban Voodoo Machine. This is a glorious song – make no mistake.
Stone Temple Pilots have delivered the album they have always hinted at making. And while ‘Perdida’ is a departure for the band and something that has been brewing for years, it is still very much Stone Temple Pilots by name and by nature. There’s a newfound vulnerability to the band that brings to mind Alice In Chains classic ‘Jar Of Flies’ acoustic album.
Hauntingly, the ghost of Scott Weiland looms over every chord they play and every note that Jeff sings, it probably always will. Haters are gonna hate, but I for one think that these songs are too good to ignore and am totally surprised and grateful that Stone Temple Pilots have delivered an album I never thought I would hear, and to be honest it has made me fall in love with this band all over again.
Buy ‘Perdida’ Here