Stone Temple Pilots' 2010 reunion album isn't a song deep before Scott Weiland alludes to his checkered chemical past by singing "even when we used to take drugs," which may not be a confession -- the singer took great pains to claim he was writing in third person for this, the sixth STP album -- but it's easy to read between the lines, particularly when the song title invites you to do so. Despite Weiland's knack for a fractured phrase, the kind that jams a verse or chorus into the brain, words have never been the reason to listen to Stone Temple Pilots, it's always been their candied crunch, the way the filter `70s sleaze through psychedelic swirls. The brothers DeLeo are responsible for the former, and Weiland for the latter and, like it or not -- the decade-long absence suggests that they surely don't -- they need each other, neither team sounding quite as good in their solo projects as they do working together. So, Stone Temple Pilots finds STP picking up where they left off, retaining the harder, diamond edge of Shangri-La Dee Da, balancing swagger and melody with an expert professional touch, offering everything as expected, except for the key ingredient of Brendan O'Brien, who produced every one of STP's albums before this. In his stead come the DeLeo brothers, who somehow strip the group's sound to the core while still managing to pile on six-string overdubs; it's an STP record that's de-frilled and guitar heavy, its bluntness extending to a direct quotation of "Dancing Days" in the guitar solo for "Hickory Dichotomy" and an open homage to prime Aerosmith on "Huckleberry Crumble." Perhaps with another set of ears in the studio these allusions would be refined, and perhaps the entire set would be sharpened, anchored by a couple of surging singles, and possessing some sense of shifting texture, but as it stands, Stone Temple Pilots is a good solid record and an inadvertent testament to the fact that these guys need each other. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Rolling Stone (p.83) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hey still wear their classic-rock passions like badges. You don't have to be a Bowie expert to catch the 'Jean Genie' homage in 'Hickory Dichotomy.'"
Entertainment Weekly (p.70) - "Scott Weiland sounds downright effervescent on the first STP disc in nearly a decade." -- Grade: B+
Billboard (p.29) - "Displaying impressive vocal polish from outspoken frontman Scott Weiland...STP asserts its place among seminal hard-rock chameleons."