It says a lot when the sticker on the case of a new CD proffers its producer, instead of its hit singles, as a selling point. You could guess that reviews for the former Soundgarden/Audioslave man's third solo album haven't been overly enthusiastic so far; teaming up with r 'n' b uber-producer Timbaland probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but in actuality it's slightly futile.
Cornell is a man synonymous with rock music; his throaty, blood vessel-popping howl sits comfortably amidst the cacophony of roaring guitars and chest-pummelling drum beats. 'Scream' sees him change tack and take an altogether more different approach; gone are the bombastic rock tunes, and in their stead are smooth-seamed, studio-created electro effects, pop melodies, and convoluted soul-flavoured songs.
It's not a completely soft record, though, and some criticisms have been hugely unfair. Although Cornell's lyrics betray a bitterness ("Everybody's out for my blood", "That bitch ain't a part of me", etc. - presumably directed towards his ex-wife, whom he recently won a legal battle with), and the soundtrack becomes samey and almost karaoke-like before long, most of 'Scream' passes by without a whimper. Several tracks sound like Justin Timberlake cast-offs (he has a writing credit here, as do John Mayer and Ryan Tedder), which is no huge flaw, and chunks of his trademark rock sound speckle the drawn-out synth numbers, like some strange Kid Rock-esque remix.
All in all, 'Scream' is probably something that Timbaland can pass off as an 'experiment' and move on from. Can Cornell do the same, though? Put it this way: a Soundgarden reunion looks like a pretty safe bet, right around now.