Stone Temple Pilots

Playpen, 2020

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


On the first six STP albums, the acoustic songs were always a welcome respite from the harder-edged rock, often becoming fan favorites and/or commercial successes. Pausing the electricity for “Creep,” “Pretty Penny,” “Sour Girl,” “Wonderful,” or “Lady Picture Show” showed dimension in the band’s songwriting and endeared them to fans.

But a whole album’s worth of those tracks never seemed like a possibility; at least, not until 2019, when the instrumental core of STP and new singer Jeff Gutt (on his second album) announced their eighth album would be all acoustic. This was something of a letdown to fans, and although Perdida has its moments, it’s far from the first or sixth album an STP fan will grab when they want to hear the band.

However, this sounds like the album the band needed to make at this time in their lives. The guys have a lot on their minds with the twin losses of lead singers Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington in rapid succession; in fact, the album’s title is Spanish for loss, and that theme winds through all 10 songs here, often in blunt yet heartfelt lyrics. It’s an album as gray and contemplative as the cover art.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Because the album is so personal and monotone, there aren’t many hooks or memorable riffs, with the songs instead settling into midtempo shuffles. It’s not a depressing album, because the band finds hope in the loss, and accepts that it’s okay to be sad. But it also wears thin over the course of the album, to the point where nothing really stands out. Probably the best of the bunch is “Three Wishes.” It draws on the same guitar tone as “Pretty Penny” and features some nimble bass runs from Robert DeLeo as well as a brief electric guitar solo.

The flamenco-inspired title track is also pretty good, showcasing a side of the band only hinted at in previous tracks like “Atlanta,” and it would have sounded good with Weiland singing it. Gutt remains an able imitation, sounding pretty close to Weiland without imitating him, but without standing out as a unique voice either. The short instrumental “I Once Sat At Your Table” is worth noting as well.

About the only surprise on these 10 tracks is the late ‘70s-inspired “Years,” in which Robert DeLeo gets his first vocal showcase, and it’s surprising why he hasn’t taken lead vocal duties prior on the basis of this performance. He has the sort of breathy voice that can morph into a high tenor, in service of a languid but compelling track that reminded me of mid-period Fleetwood Mac (before Stevie Nicks joined up).

Unfortunately, the second half of the album takes a big dip; the vaguely Eastern European-inspired “Miles Away” tries to be interesting but drags on too long, “She’s My Queen” is annoying and “You Found Yourself While Losing Your Heart” is both dull and features the most Hallmark Channel movie-worthy title of the band’s career. The closing “Sunburst” also drags a bit, but pushes Eric Kretz’s drums to the forefront, which is the right call.

Here’s the thing: I can’t see many of these songs being a beloved part of the band’s stage show. I suspect they may do an acoustic showcase in the middle of the concert, kind of like Zeppelin used to do in 1975. Again, this is a personal album that shows a different side of the band while letting them work through some hurt, which gives Perdida depth and meaning, even if it’s not an album you will need to hear all that often. Sometimes, art means more to its creators than to its audience.

Rating: B-

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