Stone Temple Pilots
Thank You
(Atlantic 83682)

I was kinda dreading the thought of reviewing a new Stone Temple Pilots album, until I realized this was a greatest hits package and the skies brightened a bit. Mario, who proffered this Hot Potato, had already made me a pretty decent STP singles comp a few years ago, so I was well prepped.

Unfortunately, STP immediately reminds me of the parts of my 90s collegiate life I don't care to revisit, but that's not being fair to the actual music. How does this stuff sound in 2004, as best you can divorce your ears to imagery of excess flannel, unavoidable irony and cynicism, crowded campus bars, MTV saturation, and uh, vague recollections of Possum Dixon getting radio airplay?

Eesch, so far this review is floundering, much like my grades were at the time. Onto the album. Comparing my previous comp to Thank You shows that apart from the omission of their cover of "Dancing Days" (royalties issues?) and perhaps album track "Church on Tuesdays," the tracklisting was assembled pretty competently.

"Interstate Love Song" still remains my favorite – clocking in a perfect 3:15, decent melody and chords. Surprise song for me was "Days Of The Week," a quickie power-pop jaunt you might call Sons of the Rasperries (that's a compliment). "Lady Picture Show" is a clanky but charming overproduction. "Big Bang Baby" is a bit smug, but I always like hearing it, same goes for "Vasoline."

I'll admit that I get nothing out of their bigger singles, however. "Plush," "Creep," and "Sex Type Thing" were way overplayed at the time, and like "Smells Like Teen Spirit," should've been left at the '99/'00 border. Unwrap 'em for our grandkids in 2045, but give 'em some Ace of Base as well for a much more accurate representation of 1992.

The more you listen, the more you'll probably agree that STP are a fair summation of 90s "alternative" music. Slick, crunchy production, vague anger, browbeating whiffs of testosterone, and too much overemphasis on offbeats (especially "Plush)" … all rekindiling magical false memories of lurching across the Woodstock II mudfield (yuck).

Singer Scott Weiland was never a particularly interesting or charismatic frontman (even kinda sad at times), and he sings in an affectation that most grunge/neo-grunge bands accepted as de rigeur at the time. However, it works with the music, which, oddly enough, often seems to get kinda ragtimey, a la Aerosmith's "Rag Doll." Again, I can't tell if this is a bad thing or not.

Apart from an occasional random play on iTunes, this just doesn't get a lot of play in my book. Compared to the glut of forumalaic, 4-chord neo-emo bullshit the teens listen to these days, though, Thank You almost makes me wistful for this era again. Perfectly acceptable music to bring along on a stockcar pit crew road trip.

Review by Bradley A. Milton