Released: Mar 10, 2009
Genre: Dance, Rock
Number Of Tracks: 14
Fans of Chris Cornell's Soundgarden days may be in for the shock of their lives with the singer's new solo release, Scream.
ScreamFeatured review by: UG Team, on february 16, 2009 8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: For those of us who grew up with the early, grunge-fueled days of Soundgarden, you're about to be in for a shock. Many of us know that Cornell has been branching out toward a more radio-friendly sound since splitting with Audioslave back in 2007, but the singer's latest effort is a huge leap into unfamiliar territory: dance music. Scream, Cornell's 3rd solo studio album, is rooted heavily in synth, sampling, and dance grooves. It's a logical result, considering that Cornell chose Timbaland (the man behind many Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado songs) to act as one of the main producers of the album. Long story short, the best way to go into listening to Scream is with a completely open mind.
Listening to the 1st track on the record, I seriously thought I had put in the wrong CD. There were no crunchy guitars, or even acoustics for that matter. The song Part of Me begins with majestic horns (or at least samples) and soon after a crazy and indecipherable voice that sounds like a cross between a robot and a demon. It's not really the way you expect a Cornell album to kick off, and it's not necessarily a bad thing - just extremely unexpected. After the elaborate intro, Part of Me morphs into what is essentially a dance song. Drum beats and samples drive the song, and it is actually infectious in a clubgoer sort of way.
The dance/R&B vibe stays consistent throughout, and Timbaland certainly has a way with creating some unusual mixes. Between the Middle Eastern vibe and rich vocal harmonies of Take Me Alive to the computer-like synth solo of Sweet Revenge, the creativity isn't lacking. Scream, which has a title that begs for some musical insanity (possibly of the metal kind), is actually one of the most laid-back songs on the album. Once again, Cornell knows how to raise a few eyebrows.
In the latter part of the album things tend to get a little repetitive. Granted, club/techno hits often rely on choruses that repeat the same line over and over again, and given the content on Scream, that's probably what Timbaland and Cornell were going for. If you're a fan of a more stripped-down sound that gets back to the basics, you'll have to wait until the final track. Two Drink Minimum is a bluesy little number co-written by John Mayer, and while it's still a far cry from Pretty Noose or Loud Love, it's nice to hear instruments in their raw form come through the mix. // 7
Lyrics: When you compare the lyrics on Scream to Cornell's past works, it definitely seems like many of them been written to fit the dance genre. Part of Me is a prime example with lines such as, I love the girl, I'm lovin' the dress she wears; She's got a hold, got a hold of me neck, oh yeah. Not every tracks is as quite as superficial, and there are a few that are more emotionally driven. In Long GoneCornell sings, I used to watch your flowers grow; Now it's raining and all your petals turns to stone; I've been praying; I turn around and see my rose. The lyrical content may not be quite as strong as what we've heard in some Soundgarden songs, but in comparison to the music it's nothing too out of the ordinary. // 8
Overall Impression: The cover photo for Scream couldn't be more fitting: Chris appears to look as if he's about to smash the living crap out of his guitar. I may be reading too much into it, but it certainly does seem to relay a message that you don't always need a guitar as the centerpiece to create a quality song. If you don't like the idea of dance music fueled by funky samples and drum machines, you may be quite angry with the direction that Cornell has chosen. When compared with his last release Carry On, you do have to give him credit for being more innovative. Having Timbaland as a producer could guarantee him success with a whole new audience, and those listeners will likely be the most receptive to Cornell's new club-driven repertoire. For those who are still mad that he went to a softer style of rock in Audioslave, Scream might be the final straw. // 7
NaivexLi, on march 19, 2009 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: I see no reason to describe the sound. If you are reading this review you are most likely very familiar with how Scream is not your typical album from Chris Cornell and that it has taken on a very dance like feel instead of the grunge and rock background the man hails from. Personally I feel it worked well for him. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically this album is a mature Chris Cornell. He has been heading in this direction over years. No, it's not as obscure as early Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, or even some Audioslave albums; but he's been mellowing a bit lyrically. Most people call this "evolving" and "maturing". You no longer need to descipher his lyrics, but they are still "rock" lyrics, despite the obvious genre change.
Chris Cornell does not have the 4 octave powerhouse voice he displayed in Superunknown and Badmotorfinger, but his vocal abilities are hardly taking a beating. He sings and wails in his usual manner. // 9
Overall Impression: This is a hit or miss album. Everyone has their own view on Chris Cornell and his constant evolution through the years. If you are more avid into Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog for their raw power and muddy guitar work then you will most likely not appreciate this album. If you are simply a fan of Chris Cornell then you have hope to not hate this album entirely. I love that Chris Cornell was not afraid to walk to the edge of a cliff and dive off with a paper bag as a parachute, however I think even for this style it could have been better.
If this album were lost or stolen I would most definately buy it again. // 9
unregistered, on february 20, 2009 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Anticipation is a bitch, don't you know. I and half of the Western world anticipated G 'n R's long suffering Chinese Democracy with the fiendishness of a junkie 5 days without a fix only to have the deliverance render not so much as a contact high. When will I learn my lesson? It's not as if I and the other half of the Western world didn't know that this Chris Cornell/Timbaland thing wasn't going to work out in anyone's favor but stillthere was a shred of hope that from somewhere within the walls of the recording studio, amid the Auto Tuner, the drum machines, the vocoder, the copious amounts of hallucinogenics, etc., that something akin to.. Hell, even the worst Audioslave tune, might come out of collaborating with a one-trick pony on repeat like Timbaland. This miracle musical thing I hoped for underneath this week's full moon despite my previous blog on this subject: // 4
Lyrics: I'm thinking that the creative well is running a bit dry. The R&B world of late is hardly known for being lyrically astute and it somewhate sounds like Cornell lowered the bar in order to fit right in. Congratulations, you succeeded. Cornell's vocals are decent if not so often obscured or overshadowed by the noise... I mean music. // 4
Overall Impression: From the monkey yelps of Ground Zero to the unwarranted misogyny in Part of Me (that bitch ain't a part of me) which I look forward to the day when a young man is crooning that little ditty to or about Cornell's daughter, to the limp-dicked Long Gone to the hey, hey! and that annoyingwhat is thata Wurlitzer twirling in the background of Watch Out? He's criticizing some chick's driving skillz and in my head I'm seeing backup dancers in booty shorts but I'm not feeling the rock. My iTunes classified the album's genre as Rock. Dude... Where's the f*cking rock?
Absent. AWOL. On leave. Taking a time out. Pissing on itself in shame. Thirteen tracks and one bonus track- "Two Drink Minimum" which is a deep, saloon bluesy trek of regret and the album's only redeeming feature- but it's wasted here because the ship still sinks faster than the Lusitania. Thirteen tracks and I got up to #11 and then called it a day. My laptop is pretty and I love her and here I sit questioning the insult of having the 119 MBs of Scream taking up space on my hard drive. That space would be better utilized by The Village People because there's honor in disco as it served a purpose and knows it's place in the grand scheme of things. Here, Cornell actually has the belief that Scream is an artistic breakthrough, his best album (I cut him slack because he always says that about his most current project), and TimbalandI don't know what he's thinking about other than trying to put a rock star in the clubs. With so much gloss, bells, tinkering, whistles and effected aural textures Timbaland effectively buries the very thing that is supposed to be the star of the show: Cornell's ungodly vocal ability. Not lost at all because it apparently never showed up for duty, are the stormy and beautifully abstract nature of Cornell lyrics. Instead what we get are the arrogant plastic words of attitude that make contemporary R&B so much the crap that it is today. I can't go anywhere near an R&B station because the sounds that pass for good music embarrass me... And I'm Black.
Cornell sings I'm a long way away from home in the faux-sitar, dance with sounds of the Middle East Take Me Alive and truer words were never spoken/sung by the man's extraordinary voice. Carry On, his last solo effort from 2007, received a lukewarm reception from fans and critics alike due to it's over arch of a cheesy adult contemporary nature. That mellow album had it's moments and, I swear, still has the potential to actually grow on you and bless him for his treatment of Billie Jean Sure, many diehards who cut their emotional teeth on Cornell screaming bloody hell like a bat with it's nuts on fire atop insanely loud guitar riffs couldn't digest Carry On but that was to be expected. Others simply appreciated the fact that everyone's favorite grungy rock god was now a guy in his 40's, married with children, a restaurant owner, living in *gasp* France, and well hell, was just seemingly a dude finally at ease in his life. I could dig it. Fast forward to 2009 and Scream and well,... Here we are.
Life is hard. And the funny thing is I'm not mad at Timbaland. How could I or anyone be? The guy has his gig and he walked right into this project and did exactly what it is he does so very well, what it is that's made him successful. Cornell on the other hand, is supposed to be the ship's captain and responsible for his creative output. One thing that Cornell has always had in his favor is the fact that the man has always been musically contradictory; although the label of grunge will follow him until the day that he dies, he's consistently expressed himself through unique collaborations (Temple of The Dog), projects (solo work on Great Expectations, Casino Royale and Mission Impossible 2 soundtracks), and simple going is own way (the incomparable Euphoria Morning). If Scream would have yielded anything that resembled crazy, mind-blowing artistic leaps that really did channel Dark Side Of The Moon, man there'd be no more a vocal champion for this (inconceivable) ultimate mash-up than me. Instead Scream comes off as little more than piss poor, thinly veiled attempts at what amounts to a musical sex change for the sake of a rock dude mainlining the mediocre mainstream. Media placements with Verizon Wireless... Okay. ABC's drama "Life On Mars" pimping "Ground Zero"... Alrighty. I won't begrudge those things, but I will note how out of place they feel to me but completely apropos for music that would otherwise go nowhere without so much public push.
And that's all I got. I'm actually surprised that I was able to eek this many words out on a subject that I thought I'd forgo but something about Other Side Of Town really pissed me off. Oh yeah, Cornell babbling about a girl dissing him because he screwed up and he has the nerve to ask What type of shit is she on? Mind if I ask that very question of you, Mr. Cornell? You really don't wear this ghetto-fab, urban league, shout-out-to-your-homies crap well. You really should have left that side of town the moment Timbaland began to eviscerate your sound, but hey, get your street cred on. Holla.
On the flip side, this project is downright fascinating... In that perverse watching a car crash kind of way. // 4