I didn't want to do this. I wanted to let it go by and never speak of it again.
I just couldn't leave well enough alone. I had to review Chris Cornell's new album "Scream."
Now I'm the last guy who should be charged with the reviewing of an RnB album. My knowledge of R n B begins and ends with Motown, and that's about it. It's not something I get, not something I pretend to understand, not something that captivates my attention.
So imagine my surprise when one of my musical stalwarts, Chris Cornell, announced he'd be recording an RnB album with Timbaland at the helm. The hairs on the back of my neck bristled, and not with excitement. My teeth starting grinding and I shook my head. Nothing good could come of this.
In the end, "Scream" is a midlife crisis recorded to disc. It bears all the hallmarks of a musician trying to cling to that last gasp of a huge career. In a decade of mixed blessings, Cornell took the greatest risk of his career and tried something so far out there that hardcore Soundgarden and Audioslave fans alike turned their noses.
If I can give Cornell any credit for this at all, it's that he has clearly chosen to continue to try and adjust his career with changing times, rather than settle into a mundane cycle of reunion tours and better days gone by.
Still, "Scream" is a confused mash-up of principles, where even though Timbaland and Cornell ostensibly work together, they never really mesh. The title track, along with songs like "My Revenge" and "Time" never seem to gel as any kind of cohesive idea. Cornell is still singing much the same way as he always has, which hardly works here. It's an RnB album with decent beats, but no hooks, and that's ultimately the death knell of the album both as a Cornell project and an RnB experiement.
I don't want to be too harsh here out of my respect for Chris Cornell, the many fond memories his music has given me (and will continue to give me) and because I think some of the very negative backlash about this album comes from a feeling of betrayal.
Still, so long as Cornell looks like an angry Renaissance painter, and sings like he always has, this career path may not work out either.