Stone Temple Pilots, "Stone Temple Pilots"
The Stone Temple Pilots' new self-titled album--its sixth studio release and first since "Shangri-La Dee Da" in 2001--perfectly showcases the veteran rock act's bold musicianship and songwriting know-how. The 12-song set displays a marked maturity and strong sense of direction following the four-piece's re-formation after an approximately five-year hiatus. The songs "Take a Load Off" and "Hazy Daze" smack with hard-rock lickery, while "Cinnamon" shimmers with carefree '90s optimism. And there's a notably Beatles-influenced Britpop quality to tunes like "Hickory Dichotomy" and "Dare If You Dare." Bringing everything from Seattle grunge sounds on the opening track/first single "Between the Lines" to homesick acoustic balladry on "Maver," the sundry set still boasts a strong sense of unity. Displaying impressive vocal polish from outspoken frontman Scott Weiland; blazing guitar solos over tight, crunch-laden instrumentation; and grungy takes on Lennon/McCartney melodicism, STP asserts its place among seminal hard-rock chameleons. --Connor McKnight