Chester Bennington / Stone Temple Pilots

High Rise

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Following years of addiction and animosity, Stone Temple Pilots finally severed ties with their lead singer, Scott Weiland, in 2013 and, like so many survivors of dysfunctional relationships, decided to pursue a new romance with somebody who is the complete opposite of their ex. STP traded in the tattered junkie glamour of Weiland for the studied earnestness of Chester Bennington, who, as the lead singer of Linkin Park, never demonstrated any facility for the hooky arena-psychedelia of STP at their prime. Unexpectedly, the 2013 EP High Rise finds this theoretically awkward marriage thriving because the two parties opted to spend their time crafting simple, straightforward, workingman rock. Bennington remains a singularly unsexy rock star -- he has no swagger, only determination -- but the DeLeo brothers are so fond of big, arena-filling hooks that the five songs on this EP are ingratiating despite their dogged lack of frills. Echoes of STP's past are heard throughout this EP -- "Out of Time," with its malevolent hook, could've fit on Core, "Black Heart" is a glam-stop straight out of Tiny Music, "Same on the Inside" is a slow, sugary ballad that brings to mind Purple -- and to Bennington's credit, he doesn't strut, he lets the songs speak for themselves. Weiland's trashiness is missed -- it kept STP unpredictable and alluring; they were junk food that you couldn't resist -- but these songs are expertly sculpted, playing upon the kind of riffs and melodies that made the group alt-rock titans in the '90s, and still sounding somewhat irresistible even when they're po-faced.

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