Bush – Sea of Memories review

Having never been much of a fan of Bush, it was challenging to approach the band’s new album from a critical standpoint, rather than dismissing it out of hand as I’d done with its other albums.

It wasn’t a question of disliking the music. The sound Bush presented in the context of grunge rock wasn’t better or worse than any of it’s contemporaries. It was a question of what I felt was needless and deliberate lyrical obscurity.

A verse like, “Rain dogs howl for the century. A million dollars a steak. As you search for your demi-god and you fake with a saint,” meant nothing to me. I became convinced Bush was blowing smoke in it’s listenership’s collective face. To me, it was the worst kind of musical pretension and I was loathe to pay attention to subsequent albums.

But as I went further into “Sea of Memories,” I found myself enjoying it more than I thought possible. The album is a solid effort. Gone are the stringing together of pseudo-symbolic imagery. Instead, the lyrics are thoughtful, even introspective.

In the opening track, “The Mirror of the Signs” Rossdale sings, “You can’t run from what’s inside you and what don’t kill will set you free. All those days, I felt the rage but I found the strength to be me.” That sounds like soul searching to me. Another stand-out was “All My Life” with its declaration, “We’re running out of time. We’ve got to get this right. Here we are. Here we are. We’re ocean-sized.”

The fuzzy, churning guitar sound from previous songs is still here, but it’s cleaner and sharper on this album, stripped to its bare bones. Rossdale’s vocals are clearer, too. The new album is very accessible. However, this accessibility leads to some unfortunate questions. Does this represent a new direction for Bush,or a compromise? Is Bush now trying to draw listeners like myself who just didn’t “get” it before, but at the expense of its integrity?

“Sea of Memories” made me,a non-fan, pay attention. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

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