Stone Teme Pilots – Perdida (2020)

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If you’re anything like me you have a few mates that you have known for a long time. You have travelled a remarkable journey together. They’re probably called Fitzy or Jules or something. Your friendship seems comfortable and endless, there through wild times, tragedy, heartbreak, laughter and fun. Whilst each of those folks aren’t particularly remarkable, they are honest and trustworthy – you just seem to get on and when there’s a job to do, they are the first ones to come over, usually with a bevvie to have when the work is done. You’ve evolved together over time, whereas with some folks you’ve known, you’ve moved on because the friendship didn’t evolve in a complimentary manner.

More on Fitzy and Jules later.

“Perdida” is the ninth album from Stone Temple Pilots, a band that has experienced more than its fair share of challenging personal times in their 28 years together, tragically losing two vocalists.

“Fare Thee Well” had me well engaged, as I was immediately struck by the acoustic sound. This wasn’t what I was expecting… Straight away I had to put that aside to engage with this evolution of sound. The lyrics were clear, calm and soothing. When the electric guitars finally arrived, they were a stylish accompaniment to the acoustic sound. The music was lounge-like, but not in a bad way. Throughout the track there was a feeling of hope.

“Three Wishes” incorporated many layers, with subtle percussion that added richness. It ebbed and flowed, with a silent pause that caught me off guard, dragging my attention back to the music. The vocals were plaintive and at times there was a pulsating quality that included a terrific bass progression. There was lots going on in this track – it was deceptive.

“Perdida”shared its Spanish influence from the very beginning, particularly in the guitars. It was immediately poignant, sharing a sense of loss, sadness and regret. There was a slow progression of building emotion throughout the track, having me remembering situations I have been in where I knew things were at an end.

“I Didn’t Know the Time” clocks on with a smooth sound. The musicianship, arrangement and engineering were all of the highest quality. This was a pleasant and engaging listen that had me hanging on most notes – but the flute solo wrankled me a little… The track then stripped back and falls away, adding to the sense of loss.

“Years” surfaced slowly, taking its time to build. It was light on lyrics and the instruments were more than happy to tell the emotional tale. Yes, more flute. This was a track of sadness and regret, and not just that there more flutes.

“She’s My Queen” had an eerie opening, not unlike Megan Markle – slow and distant. It was a track about appreciating those that we love. The percussion added spice and depth and a mega flute solo added much to the emotion and tension, before exiting. Like Prince Harry.

“Miles Away” opened with a somewhat distant and distorted sound. This was replaced by an Irish pub band. Percussive elements were then used to great effect. It had me feeling melancholy as it dealt with loss and the tyranny of distance. The addition of violins added a sense of sadness to this beguiling track.

“You Found Yourself While Losing Your Heart” had as it’s opening heartbeat a more obvious use of guitars, used in a pretty progression of sound. This track felt more positive, bringing into sharp relief the effect that the previous track had on me. This album really takes you on an emotional sojourn that often catches you by surprise. Some poignant piano pieces did much to enrich the emotional ride, before plaintive acoustic guitars took up that mantle.

“I Once Sat at Your Table” is a short instrumental track that once again shocked me, as it came out of nowhere. Surprise, Table 3! It’s short in nature and the absence of lyrics had me wondering what was coming next, before…

“Sunburst” burst forth with a much thicker sound, with lots of elements used. The bass was much more obvious and this track was a great way to finish the album. It’s a good bit longer than the other tracks and it was easy to get lost in the sound. Long instrumental interludes were used to great effect and the track builds, swells, then falls away, before building again. The track calms and falls away a long way out from the end, replaced by an orchestral arrangement that inspired sadness.

The word “Perdida” means “lost” in Spanish and it was easy to get lost in this album. New vocalist Jeff Gutt is a former X-Factor contestant, not that this means anything. He brings a solid voice to this album: clear, accessible and full of emotion.

After my first listen, I was somewhat underwhelmed and more than a little surprised. Gone was what I had come to expect and this challenged me – I had to evolve. Like that friendship with Fitzy and Jules, when the relationship evolves for both parties, it is a rewarding one indeed. With subsequent listens I grew to appreciate the consummate skill and style of this album. With its acoustic focus, there was nowhere to hide and the musicianship is stellar. Each song inspired an emotional response – from despair, to positivity, to sadness to hope. This is the nature of art, to inspire and emotional response.

This was an album of brilliant acoustic guitar arrangements, emotive orchestral segments and flute solos that Ron Burgundy would applaud. There were tales of love lost, regret at making mistakes, eroded relationships, losing the chance to improve one’s lot, the pain of death and lamenting unfulfilled promises. It was 10 diverse acoustic tracks, 46 minutes of intrigue.

So, back to Fitzy and Jules:

Like our friendships with them, we have traveled a long journey with Stone Temple Pilots – though wild times, tragedy, heartbreak, laughter and fun. Whilst these tracks aren’t particularly remarkable, they are honest and trustworthy – you just seem to get on with them. If you are happy to evolve with them, the friendship evolves in a complimentary manner.

8/10

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