Stone Temple Pilots

Perdida

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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung

After a decade bookended by just two album releases and capped off with a pair of tragic deaths, Stone Temple Pilots press pause on their usual big rock sound to process grief with their back-to-basics acoustic eighth album, Perdida. Titled after the Spanish word for "loss," this introspective set is weathered, weary, and surprisingly beautiful, an intentional therapy session for a band that's experienced its fair share of tragedy and drama. As such, loss is the central theme for much of the album, but instead of being weighed down by sadness and misery, Perdida does its best to find hope in the darkness. From the dusty, country-tinged opener "Fare Thee Well" to the flamenco-kissed title track, STP take this opportunity to play with a variety of ideas and inspirations, resulting in one of their most enjoyable and straightforward efforts to date. The plaintive "I Didn't Know the Time" floats upon moody flute accompaniment, an evocative highlight that features one of a handful of gorgeous extended solos on Perdida. Meanwhile, bassist Robert DeLeo takes center stage for the first time as a vocalist on the reflective "Years," a vulnerable goodbye to love, and guitarist Dean DeLeo has his turn with the instrumental "I Once Sat at Your Table," which swells with optimism and hope. Vocalist Jeff Gutt does a fine job with the material, filling the space left by two iconic frontmen without completely falling prey to karaoke imitation. His voice shines and -- even if Weiland's spirit can be felt on certain songs like "Three Wishes" and "Miles Away" -- he meets the challenge head on, taking the lead as the DeLeo brothers, drummer Eric Kretz, and a team of guests provides lush backing with a string section, guitarron, saxophone, and even a marxophone at various points throughout. Fans of their hard-charging radio singles might be blindsided by this shift, but those listeners keen on "Big Empty," "Creep," "Lady Picture Show," and "Sour Girl" should appreciate the vulnerability and maturity on display here. Drawing from a deep well of emotions, Stone Temple Pilots bare their souls and take the first steps toward moving on into a new era. Even though it's focused on loss -- in life and in love -- Perdida ends up feeling like a rebirth, losing the past to make way for the future. Like the barren tree on the album cover, life eventually blooms again in time.

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