Chris Cornell: The Timbaland Tapes
"Never Far Away" combines watery hotel-lobby techno with gospel-choir-style group vocals, like a viscosity-challenged mash-up of Fatboy Slim's syrupy "Praise You" and Dido's sappy "Thank You." This track suggests the hidden preponderance of adult-contemporary dance clubs, where the aging and the prematurely lame sway to stagnant ambient beats and swoon when a craggy erstwhile rocker serenades them with platitudes ("you are the words I write," "every king should have a queen," "you are the road that I will travel").
Timbaland makes some of his trademark intrusions during "Ground Zero," which interrupts its rhythmic beat with a sampled "ay!" He mercifully uses real record scratching in place of his usual retarded "wicky wicky" noises, yet he ruthlessly forces the haggard Cornell to vocally impersonate the fat guy from Gnarls Barkley.
Cornell allowed frosted-tipped dandy Ryan Seacrest to unveil "Long Gone," giving this homoelectronic power ballad the dubious introduction it deserves. "Long Gone" resembles "Apologize" by the Timbaland-produced trance/techno boy band One Republic, whose recent video boasted a Cornell cameo. On September 9, One Republic and Cornell meet again, alongside Timbaland, Pussycat Dolls and some fraudulent incarnation of the clearly deceased Lynyrd Skynyrd, on the CBS special Fashion Rocks. Using the finest in live digital manipulation technology, Cornell will coax a falsetto from his destroyed esophagus.
In a cruel irony, the title song "Scream" fails to include any of the high-volume outbursts on which Cornell built his reputation before a tragic implosion claimed the innards of his oral cavity. (On the bright side, it's not another croaking dirge version of a Michael Jackson song.) "I used to think silence was golden," he repeats near the end of this treacly dribble, implying he's discovered otherwise. However, hearing any of these songs may lead to a searing hatred of all sound, leaving listeners with a profound new appreciation for that proverb.