Written By: Kristen Jones
British alternative rock band Bush has released their fifth studio album The Sea of Memories, on September 13th. Released through E1 Records and Zuma Rock Records, this is the first album from the band since 2001’s Golden State.
Formed in London in 1992, Bush currently consists of founding members Gavin Rossdale (vocals, guitar) and Robin Goodridge (drums, percussion) and new members Chris Traynor (guitar) and Corey Britz (bass). Former guitarist Nigel Pulsford and bassist Dave Parsons decided not to rejoin the band after an almost ten year hiatus.
The first time I listened to The Sea of Memories, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. There were more ballads than I’d expected and although a few songs sounded like the Bush I remembered, most didn’t. After a few listens I think I found the problem, Bob Rock. It’s not that I don’t like him as a producer; he’s done some brilliant work with other bands in the past. I just don’t think he has anything to offer Bush; instead he seems to be hindering them creatively [more on Bob later].
The Sea of Memories opens with “The Mirror of the Signs”. This song has a slight rave feel to it with the mixure of drum beats and synthesizers. It also reintroduces fans to frontman Gavin Rossdales raspy and sometimes dreamy vocals.
Next on the album is the lead single “The Sound of Winter”. I really liked this song. It was a solid track with a powerful chorus and was also one of only a few songs on the album including “All My Life” that actually sound like Bush’s previous efforts.
“The Afterlife” is where Bob Rock’s signature style comes into play. The song sounds like it would be more suited for a pop singer than an alternative rock band. It’s not that the song is bad, the lyrics are beautifully written and carry with them a haunting message, but the upbeat chorus ruins it for me.
“All Night Doctors” is a beautiful piano ballad and one of the best vocal performances I’ve heard from Rossdale in a long time. The only problem with this song is it feels like it was written for a solo record, not a Bush album.
After this The Sea of Memories just continues its downward spiral. “Baby Come Home” brings back another poppy chorus and an unflattering whine to Rossdale’s voice, while the medium-tempo and lackluster lyrics of “Red Light” just put me to sleep and lets not forget “She’s a Stallion”, this song was so repetitive I literally sighed with relief when it was over.
The album wraps up with yet another ballad “Be Still My Love”. Let’s just say, if I hadn’t already had a nice nap during “Red Light” this song would have done the job. While the song itself was well written this was an uneventful way to finish the album.
I understand bands grow and change so I wasn’t expecting another Sixteen Stone or Razorblade Suitcase, but The Sea of Memories sounds less like Bush and more like something leftover from Rossdale’s solo career. It also feels rushed and lacks the depth and energy they’ve given us in the past. If they truly want to make a comeback I think Bush needs to drop Bob Rock and find someone who shares their visions and will give them the time to make the great music they are clearly capable of.
Bush will be headlining a tour with Filter and Chevelle beginning the end of September. For more information on the band and tour dates visit their website www.bushofficial.com