Originally published in the November 1999 edition of Renaissance Online Magazine. Reprinted by permission.
Rock music should punch you in the gut, wake you up and all the while give you something substantial to chew on. Style-shifting masters, Stone Temple Pilots, manages to do just this on their eagerly awaited fourth release, simply titled "No. 4".
In the three years since their last album, "Tiny Music...", the quartet has experimented with new sounds - and in singer Scott Weiland's case a renewed sense of rock star immortality. While the rest of the band took a bad detour with their Weiland-less side project Talk Show (1997), they have seemingly realized that the key to their success lays in the unreliable hands of their troubled singer.
Weiland has been in and out of prison and rehabilitation centers, but when his band mates can get him to focus on music the results are amazing as evidenced by "Sour Girl" and "I Got You", two tracks that showcase both the band's diversity and Weiland's melodic gift.
In large part, "No. 4" manages to avoid falling into a niche - something that, contrary to popular belief, is the most tell-tale trait of STP. They had been labeled Pearl Jam clones on their first album "Core" (1992) before moving onto the more melodic Beatles-influenced "Purple" (1994). They switched gears again with "Tiny Music" and continue the pattern on "No. 4". STP, is simply put, the most creative force in rock today, relying on the merits of their songs rather than hiding behind smoke and mirrors like so many of their contemporaries.
Want proof that rock is on it's way back? Lend an ear to Stone Temple Pilots burning through "Down", "No Way Out" and "Heaven & Hot Rods". As for hope for the future: STP keeps improving with age.