I’m not an especial fan of 1990’s grunge, so this second tier act fails to excite me. For my money, 1990’s grunge wasn’t the most exciting era in rock; a lot of the groundwork was done by groups like Husker Du and the Pixies, carrying the torch from punk until Nirvana’s Nevermind struck big. When the Stone Temple Pilots surfaced at the right time with the right balance of grungy disdain and mainstream appeal, they became a commercial success and a target for frustrated critics; less dangerous than Nirvana and Alice In Chains, and a step behind Pearl Jam. They try hard to be artsy, with vague stream of consciousness lyrics (“Smoke a cigarette and lie some more/These conversations kill/Falling fast in my car”), but with such a straightforward musical approach it’s difficult to shake the impression that they listened to one to many Kiss albums while growing up.
Despite a lack of originality, Purple is an accomplished album; frontman Scott Weiland has a voice that’s simultaneously warm, powerful and ragged, while his band-mates Eric Kretz and the DeLeo brothers are all talented enough musicians. And some of the songs are competent; the effortlessly burbling hit single ‘Interstate Love Song’ is the most obvious example, while ‘Pretty Penny’ is a pleasant enough acoustic song. There are signs of creativity, especially the out of control guitar freak-out at the end of ‘Silvergun Superman’, while the lounge singing bonus track provides some much needed stylistic variation.
Purple is competent, but it’s an artistic dead end, like Kiss and Aerosmith updated for the 1990s.