Perhaps the most remarkable thing about a 2010 Stone Temple Pilots release is that it exists at all, or that Scott Weiland’s infamous, almost legendary excesses hadn’t prematurely confined either himself to a pine box or put Dean in hospital after fisticuffs. When the opening track Between The Lines – friendly enough to be performed on Letterman and make that Billboard #1 – ponders that a lover always was a favorite, “even when we used to take drugs”, then it seems pretty clear that Weiland wants to make it clear that, this time, he’s on the wagon, and us listeners are left to wonder the obvious question – is he any good like that?The next track, and second single, Take a Load Off leaves little doubt that it’s pre-empting that question, sounding more like the Pilots than the Pilots have ever done before, almost going out of its way with guitar licks and vocal harmonies to pull us back to the days of Purple and No. 4. Then it’s a hard left to Aerosmith-like glam rock for Huckleberry Crumble, distinctly David Bowie a la Suffragette City for Hickory Dichotomy, and, possibly the high point of the album, practically channeling John Lennon for Dare If You Dare. A gorgeous track. Something exceptionally curious happens after that point, with songs that aren’t particularly astonishing in their own right, but wander all over several musical influences, even – perish the thought – bordering on pop. Things perk up a bit with an obvious homage in Bagman – I defy you to listen to it without thinking of, well, a rather similarly-named Beatles song. More edgy, classic DeLeo guitar licks follow, and the album makes it clear that, of all the hat-tipping to heroes going on in this record, most of the credit gets given to the former STP incarnation itself. It says something about their fan-base now, almost a decade after their previous album release, we’re looking for something comfortable to slip back into to go with our cocoa and slippers. With First Kiss On Mars and Maver, we’re definitely in the adult contemporary category; perhaps it’s something of a pleasant surprise that the now clean-living Weiland can manage that. I’m still undecided about the album as a whole, although it’s certainly a delight to know that STP are still out there, nicely ‘mellowed’ with age, and capable of putting out quality material. It’s unclear as yet though whether it’s a comeback of sorts, or merely something to keep those of us who’ve been starving for more quiet for a few more years. I’m hoping it’s more; there’s qualities here to appeal to a more mature audience, and, after all, we’re all older now.