When I first heard about this collaboration between Chris Cornell (iron-throated rock singer formerly with Soundgarden and Audioslave) and producer Timbaland (noted for his work with Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and a host of Hip Hop artists) I was intrigued and couldn't wait for it after I heard the track Scream. I wasn't such a big fan of Part of Me, however, and when I saw the amount of negative reviews of the album my heart sank.
Having listened to the whole album, I have been pleasantly surprised. The tracks, for the most part have turned out very well. Tracks like Ground Zero and Never Far Away are catchy-as-hell, and have the ability to keep you humming the melody all day. Scream's ambient, textured RnB is a cool, chilled out track that provides a nice interval, while songs like Take Me Alive allow Cornell's bluesy-rock side to show itself once more, albeit partially.
The songs that fare the best are those where Timbaland takes more of a back seat and allows the singer's voice to do the most of the work. Tracks like Enemy and Take Me Alive ease of the electronics and synths (slightly) and let vocals take centre stage. Cornell's lyrics aren't too much of a departure from his Audioslave work, with the exception of a bafflingly misogynistic and repetitive chorus in Part of Me. Another weaker aspect of the album is the length, it is over an hour long, and particularly if you have the bonus track version, the record does start to lose momentum after the first two thirds.
Overall, its not the midlife crisis that many die-hard Soundgarden fans have painted it as. The record isn't a masterpiece, undoubtably, but it is a solid and well-produced record that with a lesser vocalist would probably be awarded 3 stars by this reviewer. However, the presence of Chris Cornell is key, as his vocal charisma carries the album. His next career step will be even more interesting.