Voodoo Lounge (1994)
Now we’re really getting into the meaning of the term "inconsistent." Voodoo Lounge is by no means a bad album, but it’s the first Stones album to feature bad songs. Not just a bit ho-hum, or uninspired, but bad, really bad; and not just one bad song, but many.
It also features really good songs too which is why you cannot describe it as a bad album. Reading between the lines, my guess is that after being at the top of their game for thirty years, the Stones had just lost all ability to critically assess their songs or to edit an album down to just the killer tracks. That’s the only way to explain the variance in quality seen here, though that variance would only get more extreme in their next few albums.
According to Mick Jagger, producer Don Was encouraged them away from experimentation so Voodoo Lounge doesn’t get too crazy. But still, its best moments are when the Stones try something new, like the catchy syncopated call-and-response chorus on "Suck On The Jugular" or the stately loud-quiet-loud dynamic on the Richards ballad "Thru and Thru," which is the album’s highlight.
The moments of greatness are truly great, but then there’s the really bad stuff. It’s the lyrics that really let Voodoo Lounge down. A sense of self-awareness might have made lyrics like “Sparks will fly/Sharks will cry” come off as surreal and goofy, like something Beck would write, but when Mick Jagger mixes metaphors so badly that he’s telling his lover that her “oil… smells like caviar,” it’s impossible to think of these songs as being written with any awareness.
With this huge variance in the quality of the songs, I am trying to judge these albums by their best song, not by their worst, but "Sweethearts Together" is a song so bad it kinda ruins the album. Again, it’s the lyrics, which are so lazy, they’re beyond parody. And the riff is an exact copy of 1969’s classic "Let It Bleed," making it an even bigger crime.