Down On the Upside
After the huge commercial breakthrough of Superunknown—where Soundgarden expanded its attack to include pop hooks, psychedelic riffage, and production values—the foursome decided to work harder at rocking harder. From the opening chords of "Pretty Noose," the group brings out the brawny guitars and slightly leavens them with sweet harmonies. With "Rhinosaur," Kim Thayil churns out more guitar-hero riffs for young America to master. "Zero Chance" turns to the quiet side as Chris Cornell ruminates in a depressive mood: "Born without a friend/And bound to die alone." "Ty Cobb" floors the acceleration with no brakes. Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs" is evoked within "Tighten & Tighter," while "No Attention" ventures toward Rocks-era Aerosmith, an occasional Soundgarden touchstone. The album's obvious centerpiece, however, is "Blow Up the Outside World," with its mix of acoustic and electric guitars; it builds toward a cathartic chorus that rings true of everything Soundgarden could ever be.