Arriving at the same time as one of 2008’s most bizarre records, Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, the second solo album from former Stone Temple Pilots, Talk Show and Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland still manages not to be completely overshadowed by West’s inexplicable T-Pain-inspired stunt performance. No, Happy in Galoshes is even more bat-shit insane an album, with Weiland strutting and vamping through an interminable series of ever-shifting stylistic pastiches, no two of which sound like they were written and recorded by the same person.
While there’s something to be said for the risks that Weiland takes here, he showcases a heretofore unexplored versatility with his voice), too few of those risks actually work. He stumbles awkwardly when doing a Bob Dylan impression on “Tangle with Your Mind” and when name-checking Jerry Jeff Walker in the vintage country “The Man I Didn’t Know,” and the dance-punk cover of David Bowie’s “Fame” is too obvious to work either as homage or as topical satire. Much of the album suggests that Weiland had specific satirical targets in mind, but these rarely hit the mark: “Blind Confusion” plays like a smug parody of the Killers, “Big Black Monster” sends up the fake-funk of Maroon 5, while the aggressive guitars and half-rapping of “Hyper-Fuzz-Funny-Car” recall Korn’s brand of nü-metal that no one has listened to for years. Whether his intention was flattery-by-imitation, which would bring his taste into question, or a satirical broadside about modern pop, which calls into question how attuned he is to current trends, Weiland has mostly just made a mess.
Still, Galoshes is a fascinating mess. Sprawling as it is, there are occasional moments, such as the lead single “Missing Cleveland” and the power-pop “Blister on My Soul,” that recall Weiland’s best work with STP or his stylistically similar but better edited solo debut, 1998’s underrated 12 Bar Blues. But like the recent output by the Dandy Warhols, intermittent tunefulness can only do so much to overcome Weiland’s affected, often condescending posture. That’s a serious liability since the bulk of the record finds Weiland playing pop-icon dress-up. It impresses in its way as sheer spectacle, but whatever Weiland had left that was keeping his glam affectations separate from straight-up camp is long gone: Galoshes is more Party Monster than Velvet Goldmine.