For many acts when they burst on the scene with much gusto and some metaphorical fanfare, the second album is always a challenge (see Stone Roses' Second Coming) and for US supergroup Velvet Revolver, the same criteria applies. Another thinly disguised dig at Guns N' Roses (and I know some readers will kill me for saying), but this offering from VR took the best part of three months to record, and strong indicators that the commitment was there from Scott Weiland. In fact, this album was written when Weiland wasn't under the influence and if this is cold turkey, then Libertad is at least twice as good as Contraband!
Bold assumption obviously, but I'm not going to get carried away as their debut album wasn't without its faults, so I won't be setting my sights up too high. Contraband is a very listenable record mainly full of rock n' roll fillers, the chief problem was that there wasn't much new ground broken. The riffs sounded too similar to their GNR roots and the differences were few and far between. On first impressions with Libertad, Slash and Co. show strong evidence of distancing themselves further away this time.
The whole of the album sounds more grown-up, more reflective and less hurried. There's more involvement from Weiland here and he's clearly not afraid to confront some difficult facts, e.g. For A Brother and Pills, Demons & Etc are about his recently deceased younger brother Michael. First impressions as the brief opening track Let It Roll are a strong thumbs up from me as the riffs, drumming and vocals all gel together well. Much confidence too in She Builds Quick Machines and the superhero themed American Man. Weak points? Well, not too many actually, perhaps Scott Weiland's lyrics are just a smidgen weak although his sobriety and dry moments might just be one such reason so tackling personal issues isn't his strongest point. The distinctive Slash guitar notes are also gone but is that necessarily such a bad thing?
This turned out to be Velvet Revolver's last release before Weiland's much publicised departure/sacking(?) and as of yet there are no plans to replace or to bring him back. As for this record, I always try to avoid drawing comparisons with other albums, but I really can't sustain from the premise that I rated Contraband highly despite one or two pitfalls and Libertad is a significant stride from it. Clear evidence that rock n' roll CAN mature if you're not afraid to add some chili to the mix. M. Richardson 14/07/2013.
9 out of ten. Almost perfect....Almost.
You can buy the album here on Amazon
You can listen to the album here on Spotify
Velvet Revolver are officially on hiatus but they do have an official website here