Chris Cornell – [Album]

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

“Wait – what?! No.”

Those three seemingly incoherent words will be the first that run through the minds of any long-time Soundgarden or Audioslave fan as “Part Of Me” – the lead-off track from Chris Cornell's new solo effort Scream – wallops them over the head with great big dance floor beats.

“Wait,” you ask, suspiciously. “Dance floor? As in where Madonna confessed from a couple of years ago?”


“That place Donna Summer, Abba, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears have succeeded each other in ruling over the years? That dance floor?”

The same.

“That's a rather harrowing prospect,” you continue, clearly in shock at the news. “Chris Cornell is blessed with one of the best rock n' roll voices since Robert Plant. There were moments in the glory days of Soundgarden when his vocal swells and propulsive scream were compared with the brassy blast of a trumpet. I suppose it could work, but the notion of an established rock singer chucking it all to roll the dice on securing a foreign, Top 40 audience seems like a needless risk – especially given that his last solo venture flopped so abysmally.”

Congratulations! If you followed this thought process when you heard that Chris Cornell had decided to go the electronic music route for his new album, you've shown that you possess good deductive reasoning skills and a healthy amount of common sense. Where were you while Scream was being made?

With little in the way of real-time supporting instrumentation, Chris Cornell has certainly set himself apart from the pack with this glittering and ultra-polished affront to every fan of his previous bands, but whether or not Scream makes you cringe and question if he's completely taken leave of his senses will depend entirely upon whether or not you're able to rationalize that there's no doubt he's got his back against the wall and is fumbling desperately for something to sustain him. Yes, the beats are huge and will guarantee that songs like “Take Me Alive” (which boasts a guest vocal appearance by Justin Timberlake), “Ground Zero” and “Long Gone” get a little nightclub (and probably strip club) play, but every old school fan will find fault with and feel cheated by the lack of rock dynamics in Scream's thirteen songs. That loss is a decisive blow, but the most significant downside to that total artistic departure is that Cornell has also lost every last vestige of his authoritative voice in the trade; now sticking as close to the beat as possible, the singer melodically conforms to Top 40 orthodoxy and leaves his death defying tenor boxed for the duration of this proceedings. It might be an attempt by both Cornell and producer Timbaland to keep the vocals song-serving, but unfortunately it comes off as static and subdued as the promise in songs like “Climbing Up The Walls,” the title track, “Take Me Alive” and "Ground Zero” withers, dies and fades into oblivion with nothing but a lousy aftertaste to mark each track's passing. Timbaland's flavor-of-the-moment beats and production do nothing to support the singer either and the record only ends up sinking further under the weight of his name; no one can miss the time stamp of 2009 on Scream because there's just too much shtick and novelty glutting it.

There's no mistaking that Scream might have been an experiment the singer probably felt he needed to make (with his back against the wall, did his record label suggest this? We'll probably find out when it's discovered how hard they promote it) but, because of all the novel trappings that dominate it, both singer and producer have ensured that the album will have an even shorter shelf-life than the preceding flop, Carry On, did. All that Scream really does successfully is disprove the contention that Rivers Cuomo made on Weezer's last album: Timbaland is not a god, even he couldn't make this shit a hit.


Chris Cornell Online

Chris Cornell myspace


Scream is available now for purchase on Amazon .

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