Scott Weiland is just a little too enamored of his tortured soul, titling his long-delayed second solo album Happy in Galoshes, a rather convoluted reconstruction of only being happy when it rains (he truly is a creature of the '90s). And the truth is, if anybody had reason to indulge in a little miserableness, it's Weiland, who once again suffered through a year that would have knocked out the knees of mere mortals, losing a brother, losing a wife, then trudging through the last days of his supergroup, Velvet Revolver. All this turmoil roils underneath the surface of Happy in Galoshes, which follows his underrated solo debut, 12 Bar Blues, by a full decade, but the perennial Weiland problem remains: all that angst seems to be an excuse for the songs, as the pain never fully inhabits the music. As pop problems go, this is pretty minor; after all, what matters is the sound of the record, and Weiland always has shown an enduring gift for candied psychedelic and fizzy glam hooks. This gift was submerged during Velvet Revolver, who always swung for the fences just a bit too hard, so it's a bit of relief for everybody to hear him just settle back and play pop. It's a relief for listeners but also for Weiland, who gets to try more different sounds than on any record since...well, 12 Bar Blues, which this is a virtual remake of, right down to his strange affection for Tom Waits-ian Germanic stomps. Happy in Galoshes isn't quite as textured or bright as 12 Bar Blues -- the smaller budget is evident in its muted colors as well as Weiland's sleepy delivery -- but it has the same emphasis on churning psychedelia and clomping glam, epitomized by the lead single, "Missing Cleveland," and punctuated by dragging dirges like the Floydian "She Sold Her System" (say it out loud fast; it's almost as funny a pun as Britney Spears' "If U Seek Amy"). Weiland stumbles occasionally, most notably on a ham-fisted dance-rock cover of Bowie's "Fame" (he has worn his idol worship more blatantly and better elsewhere), but he also has a couple of neat left turns here in the terrific barbed Elvis Costello-ish pop of "Blind Confusion" and the breezy bossa nova beat of "Killing Me Sweetly." That kind of self-conscious yet curiously effective eclectic construction of sound has been Weiland's strength, so it's too bad that it gets wrapped up in an angst that might be real but is never quite convincing. Fortunately for listeners, Weiland's plumbing of his soul always tends to be a little cryptic and now that it's delivered largely in a murmurs here, it's easy to shut off and enjoy his pop gifts, which remain overlooked and prodigious.
Happy in Galoshes Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine