The crowds at the Nineties reunion party keep growing. (Hey, Sponge, we're saving you a chair next to Seven Mary Three!) But who expected Bush to show up in such buff shape? These guys were always underrated - and their name was one of history's worst bad-timing moves. But the quartet's first record in a decade is a surprisingly vital viva-la-grunge manifesto.
A decade after releasing the group’s forgotten swan song Golden State, Gavin Rossdale assembled a new lineup of Bush -- only retaining drummer Robin Goodridge, replacing guitarist Nigel Pulsford and bassist Dave Parsons with Chris Traynor and Corey Britz -- for a 2011 comeback called Sea of Memories. Hiring mainstream hard rock impresario Bob Rock as a producer is a pretty good indication that Rossdale is no longer desperate for indie cred -- a perennial Achilles’ heel for the model-handsome rocker, who as recently as 2005, hired Helmet guitarist Page Hamilton to produce the also-forgotten post-Bush outfit Institute's album Distort Yourself -- and is ready to make the big, glossy record he never cut in the wake of Sixteen Stone. Such slick settings are a comfortable fit for Bush, better than either the jagged textures of Steve Albini or the odd electronica flirtations of Langer/Winstanley’s The Science of Things.
Oh, Bush. What can I say? They try oh so very hard to make relevant, introspective music that incorporates both a self-analysis and the relation of that self-awareness to their greater social reality. This is a massive undertaking for a band that is pretty much a slightly more sophisticated version of Foo Fighters (note that I said “more sophisticated” and not “better”).
Dear, Gavin Rossdale circa November, 1996: As you know, your band, Bush, has just released its sophomore album, Razorblade Suitcase. I'm one of the few people who enjoyed it. Critics thought it was a drawn out, failed effort and fans thought it was pretty mediocre. Everybody seems to agree that it's no Sixteen Stone, as do I, but that doesn't mean it's bad, right? Steve Albini's production style is a great match for the band's fairly raw grunge sound and your voice is at, let's be honest, its expressive peak.
“Bush? That band from the 90’s with that guy who’s married to Gwen Stefani?” The same. Gavin Rossdale and his reworked outfit have emerged from a 10 year absence to deliver us their fifth LP, The Sea of Memories. Naturally, when a band returns from such a drastic break, they’re met with skepticism. However, this isn’t the same band from 1996.