Stone Temple Pilots is the second Stone Temple Pilots album to be titled Stone Temple Pilots, following the first by eight years. A lot happened during those years. At the dawn of the decade, when STP issued their first eponymous album, the group reunited with their erstwhile frontman Scott Weiland, but that revival didn't last long: They fired the singer in 2013, hiring Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington in his stead. Bennington lasted two years before amicably parting ways in 2015. Not much later, Weiland died of an accidental overdose, but the remaining three STP were already gearing up for an online search for a new vocalist. By the end of 2017, the band revealed they'd hired Jeff Gutt -- a runner-up on the third season of The X Factor -- as their new lead singer. Gutt debuted on the 2018 self-titled set from Stone Temple Pilots and, from a certain perspective, he could be mistaken for a well-behaved Weiland. He nails how the late singer could slide from a snarl to a sigh, conjuring a bit of a snaky sexuality while still seeming a bit safe. In other words, he's a good fit for the DeLeos, because he can articulate their musical interests without causing a ruckus. That's not a bad thing at all. While there may not be much tension between the singer and the band -- which was a defining characteristic of STP during their heyday -- this ease feels earned and welcome, not least because it makes it possible to appreciate the craft of the DeLeos. Whether it's psychedelicized hard rock or candied melodies, the pair not only know how to construct melodies, they know how to showcase these hooks with layered productions that skirt the edge of being ornate. These skills were evident as early as Purple, but on this album, there's not only no Weiland, there's also no Brendan O'Brien to credit. Stone Temple Pilots are now clearly lead by Robert and Dean DeLeo, and this 2018 album shows they haven't lost their knack for hooky-heavy hard rock that wedges its way into the subconscious. The album can't be called a comeback -- the group were toiling away during the 2010s, after all -- but it certainly opens the door on another act in their career, one that is sonically tied to their past but feels brighter (and more relaxed) than their first chapters.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine