Shangri-la Dee Da
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/15/2005
The final album STP released until their reunion in 2010, Shangri-la Dee Da builds on the osychedelic/rock/pop foundation of No. 4 to diminished results.
Once the band roared back to relevance with "Sour Girl," they were heralded as survivors who still had something to say, a notch above the post-grunge copycats they had been compared to (witness Candlebox, Bush, Creed, Seven Mary Three, and so on, most of whom had faded by 2001). Problem is, Shangri-la Dee Da isn't the sort of album that will move you. It's just kind of there. It's professionally there, mind you, with a number of good hard rock tunes, a couple acoustic ballads and the flourishes of psychedelia and pop hooks that make up the essence of STP.
The rollicking opener "Dumb Love" gives an indication that the boys have not softened, but then they immediately dispel that with the insipid "Days of the Week," which they were forced to relese as a single. "Coma" was the preferred choice, and with reason; it would have fit nicely on No. 4 and rocks out. In the rock vein is "Hollywood Bitch" -- "You'll never lose it / 'cause you never had it," Scott Weiland snarls -- and four or five other plodding, forgettable numbers.
"Wonderful" is a gentle acoustic ballad that swells in intensity near the end, while "Black Again" has layered voices over a dreamy rock soundscape. Weiland gets in an acoustic tribute to his son called "A Song For Sleeping" and lends a husky charm to "Hello, It's Late," a wistful ballad with strong bass work and restrained guitars. It's a shame it took STP five albums to expose this side of itself, because these are all very good songs.
Also worth noting is the strange "Too Cool Queenie," which tells a quickie version of the Kurt Cobain/Courtney Love story without really taking a stance on it. It's musically competent but you feel the lyrics should be so much more than "She's all too cool."
STP's maturity was evident on the slower songs and the improved lyrics, but clearly the spark that fueled the band's best work was starting to fade, and indeed after this the curtain would close for nine years. Not exactly a forgotten gem, but enough here is good to warrant at least a cursory listen.