No Slump Here
Anytime a band has a successful debut album, the follow up is always a challenge. The sophomore slump, as it is often called, has been known to rear its ugly head time and time again, derailing the momentum of many up and coming artists. For a super group, the second album is especially important, serving as evidence that the band isnâ€šÃ„Ã´t just a novelty act. Velvet Revolver has done just that with Libertad, the bandâ€šÃ„Ã´s follow-up to their 2004 debut, Contraband.Upon the release of their first album, Velvet Revolver were met with as much diffidence as appreciation. After all, super groups have tended to detonate as often as succeed, but with Libertad, lead singer Scott Weiland and Co. demonstrate that the band has some real potential staying power. With Libertad, VR have surpassed the super group stigma, and now sound like an individual entity and not just a melting pot of Guns Nâ€šÃ„Ã´ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots.
The album kicks into high gear immediately with â€šÃ„ÃºLet it Roll,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a rocker that sounds like Pearl Jamâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºSpin the Black Circleâ€šÃ„Ã¹ meets Guns Nâ€šÃ„Ã´ Roses â€šÃ„ÃºRight Next Door to Hellâ€šÃ„Ã¹. The mid-tempo â€šÃ„ÃºShe Mineâ€šÃ„Ã¹ slithers along, its psychedelic peak irresistible. â€šÃ„ÃºGet Out the Doorâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a pop-savvy rocker that moves the disc along nicely. â€šÃ„ÃºShe Builds Quick Machines,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the albumâ€šÃ„Ã´s first single, is probably the most Stone Temple Pilotsâ€šÃ„Ã´ mimicking song on the disc, and while itâ€šÃ„Ã´s a tad generic, the hook is still there. The infectious â€šÃ„ÃºPills, Demons and etcâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a short-but-sweet rocker, and the pure ear-candy â€šÃ„ÃºMary Maryâ€šÃ„Ã¹ has a great groove, sounding somewhat reminiscent of STPâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºBig Bang Baby.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Overall, Libertad is a celebratory, buoyant album, and isnâ€šÃ„Ã´t as forceful as Contraband. The new album still rocks, but itâ€šÃ„Ã´s more groove oriented than their previous record, with stronger hooks, melodies and has more satisfying textures. The only real downside to Libertad is that when VR slows things down, it does get boring. â€šÃ„ÃºThe Last Fightâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is hardly anything to speak of, and just comes off as a generic ballad aimed at radio stardom. Saving a pair of these disinfected tunes, the new album is all about hand-grenade chords, drag-racing riffs, and circus-tent choruses, with Weiland crooning like the old STP frontman we knew and loved, and Slash ripping out riffs like itâ€šÃ„Ã´s 1987 all over again.
With Libertad, we see more than just a STP/GNR mesh; we see something deeper, something more satisfying; we see a band that has formed its own identity, even while the individual band members remember where they came from. Velvet Revolver passes the â€šÃ„Ãºsophomore slumpâ€šÃ„Ã¹ test to make what has proven to be one of the finest rock albums of the year.