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. Rock wisely emphasizes Rossdale's instinct for arena rock hooks, not hiding the similarities between the opening riff of “All My Life” and Bad Company's “Feel Like Making Love,” urging Bush to surrender to the sweet temptations of gussied-up power ballads, pushing them toward silly glammy singalongs like “She’s a Stallion,” all the while layering on guitars so heavily processed they sound like keyboards. It’s a piece of loud, sparkly, sonic candy with much of its appeal laying on the surface, but it suits Rossdale's poppiest set of songs, tunes that greatly benefit from Gavin no longer fighting his innate ability to please large crowds. Now, those large crowds may or may not exist in 2011 -- it’s unclear who exactly is clamoring for a new Bush album 15 years after their popular peak -- but as a record, this The Sea of Memories is easily the most enjoyable collection of songs released under Bush's name.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine