“Happy” In Galoshes
2 out of 5 stars
“Happy” In Galoshes is not an album that’s meant to be reviewed. This isn’t to say it’s so piss-poor that the whole process of criticism would be wasted on it, though it’s not all that great either. Galoshes is just incredibly tricky to digest because, at its core, it’s little more than a vanity project made so Scott Weiland can pay homage to his favorite musicians.
The record itself is the auditory equivalent of a Tarantino flick, but without any underlying semblance of auteurial style to mark the patchwork of musical references as Weiland’s own contraption. So in a strange way, the album’s really closer to being an anti-vanity project. It’s a solo record that reflects nothing of Weiland’s persona other than that he loves a lot of different types of music.
The record’s brazen ridiculousness can be deftly expressed with a single example: One of the tracks is a “Garage Band”-y cover of David Bowie’s “Fame” featuring Paul Oakenfold (a DJ and trance music wizard). Nobody asked for this song. Most people listening to Galoshes will skip over it every single time. Weiland cites Bowie as one of his biggest influences, but that’s no excuse for the laughably prosaic imitation. He would’ve been better off exorcising his Ziggy fixations at a karaoke bar — that’s essentially what he’s doing anyway on the grossly expendable cut.
The whole album forces the listener into a big game of spot-the-influence that may make for some sublimely entertaining diversion, but still doesn’t make the songs anything more than the sum of their transparently pilfered parts. In “Be Not Afraid,” was Weiland going for a grating caricature of tattered-heart U2 balladry, or were his vocal chops simply too meager to handle the upper register, Thom Yorke-style warbling the track required? “Big Black Monster” is slightly more successful, mashing crisp snare hits and slinky vintage keyboards in the vein of Steely Dan, then adding mean electro-funk synth à la Of Montreal. And to top it off, Weiland croons in a Prince-like falsetto all over the track.
Only a few songs verge on transcending the album’s scattershot collage of hijacked archetypes. “Beautiful Day” rips the tense chord progression from “One” by Three Dog Night and stretches it over the loom of a Beatles-esque circus stomp, adding spooky synths and kettle drums for further exoticism. The resulting concoction is something both warmly familiar and intoxicatingly eccentric. “Killing Me Sweetly” recalls the alcoholic nostalgia of Weiland’s Stone Temple Pilots roots but also demonstrates that his voice has fermented into an unbecoming whine over the years.
Still, something about Galoshes is strangely endearing. Maybe it’s the dog-eyed glee Weiland must’ve felt while recording it. The album radiates with the naïve spark of a lanky pre-teen dancing at a bar mitzvah with a contagious aura of unabashed uncool. This is especially apparent on “Blind Confusion,” a song where Weiland channels the radio-humping power-pop ghosts of No Doubt. He sounds uncomfortably out of place, like a sweaty, potbellied 55-year-old version of Jon Bon Jovi trying to get a bunch of little kids to sing along and dance. Weiland may have lost his ability to discern between what’s cool and what’s not, but the whole affair is turbo-charged with such caffeinating energy that it’s hard not to crack a smile. Galoshes is an alluring mess that’s sure to be pegged with many adjectives, but “boring” won’t be one of them.