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May 25, 2024

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DECONSTRUCTED (Trauma/Interscope Records)

By: Bernadette Giacomazzo

It's too easy to dismiss a band like Bush. With their pretty-boy frontman Gavin Rossdale seeming to front an Andy Gibb-like image (between his unintentional come-hither poses and his trophy girlfriend, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, he's found himself over more beds of prepubescent girls than those saccharine Hanson brats) more than fronting the music, it's easy to forget that there are actually FOUR members of Bush -- whom, arguably, aren't as photogenic as the frontman(though, on a personal note, for someone who's an admitted Trannie, i.e., fan of the now-defunct Transvision Vamp, I think bassist Dave Parsons could give Gavin a run for his money -- but back to the music), but who each bring in their own distinct sound to make the band sell the 10-million plus albums that they've sold.

And now, with "Deconstructed", Bush have more to prove than ever. Cynics argue that Bush are simply jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, leaping into the electronica territory that's no more theirs than the alternative-rock genre dominated by middle-class Americans from Seattle --Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and, alas, Nirvana. It's bad enough, they argue, that Gavin Rossdale takes his upper-class English upbringing and tries to sound like he's from Seattle. Now, dare they emulate a genre that seems to be a paradox in itself, seeming like the great salvation from the played-out grunge and the immature skank-rock one minute, and the disco of the 90s the next?

Yes. They do. And they do it just well.

Personally, I miss Robin Goodridge's pounding drums -- for those who can remember, think Keith Moon of the Who -- which have been replaced by a looping drum machine. It's Goodridge's drums that keep the bet in each of the Bush songs, sometimes disguising the fact that Our Mr. Rossdale sometimes hits the wrong note or cracks his voice, other times just keeping a beat that in a song that otherwise falls apart. You'll miss Goodridge the most when you hear the first cut off the album, a drum-n-bass version of "Everything Zen" that, sadly,falls short of what I expected. The rhythm is off, the guitar licks just don't sound the same, and poor Gavin sounds like he's rushing through the song in an attempt to keep up with the rhythm. Dubbed "The Lhasa Fever Mix", this one's worth skipping.

But, fortunately -- and to my utter relief, being a Bush fan -- it gets better.

Under the moniker Stingray, Bush themselves remix the Razorblade Suitcase cut "Mouth" -- whose video is in heavy rotation on MTV and can be found on the soundtrack to "An American Werewolf in Paris" -- and the result is kinetic enough to knock down the Empire State Building. The "Lunatic Calm Mix" of "Comedown" sounds like it was made for the rave floor -- you can almost see the 15 year olds collapsing with heat exhaustion and ecstacy overdose -- and the "Derek DeLarge Mix" of "Everything Zen" makes up for the raspberry version of the first track. The repetition of "There's no sex in your violence" by Rossdale's ex-girlfriend Jasmine Lewis -- who, by the way, has more talent in her little finger than all the Gwen Stefanis you can fit in a box, and judging how pudgy Stefani has gotten, it isn't that many -- makes the alt-rock anthem take on an eerie feel, which works when you place it right before "In a Lonely Place", the Tricky-remixed remake of the old Joy Division song that can also be found on "The Crow: City of Angels" soundtrack. Here, Rossdale's voice comes in slight wisps, whispering like a breeze over a funeral, and the funeral-march like drums 'n' bass send your skin crawling.

The jury is still out on whether or not Bush is simply taking the path of least resistance in order to emulate, rather than create, or if they're simply just the unfortunate victims of a media onslaught that says an artist cannot be good-looking and talented at the same time. One need only look at a photo of the aging Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on the cover of Rolling Stone to see that it's talent, and not looks, that's boss in the ever-fickle music business. But Bush se

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