EUPHORIA MOURNING is a record to divide opinion. A piece of self-celebratory indulgence, or vital slice of alt-rock solo-ism from one of the greatest voices his generation has ever produced?
Now 16 years old, as debut solo albums go it’s an expressive vocal performance that retains the grunge context of the 90’s; with darkly shaded textures and introspection closer to the Soundgarden sense of foreboding, than the outward exhibitionism of subsequent supergroup Audioslave. Though commercially unsuccessful it contains Grammy nominated material and still stands as a high point in Cornell’s seesaw career as a Rock artist.
What is clear is that he has not been able to replicate it’s kind since; 07’s Carry On and 09’s Scream both way off target. So for us, despite coming much later, it can nestle nicely alongside Superunknown, Temple of the Dog, Jar of Flies et al, as an integral and essential representation of it’s time.
With collaborative cohort Alain Johannes (Eleven, Arctic Monkeys, QOTSA, Mark Lanegan, Them Crooked Vultures) contributing guitar and production duties, songs such as lead single Can’t Change Me, Flutter Girl and Disappearing One elevate listeners attention from curiosity to compulsion, while Follow My Way, Preaching The End of the World, When I’m Down and Moonchild see Cornell serenading his demons to the point of self-destruction. Its compulsive and at times, irresistible stuff.
Closing with the muscular Pillow of Your Bones and the heroic Steel Rain provides breadth, gravity and grandeur to an album that on reflection, remains his best, most stretching, solo work. Certainly, compared to his peers, and those subsequent solo outings, including the latest Higher Truth, it’s light years ahead. On the eve of its multi-format re-release, it should be celebrated as such.