Bush – The Kingdom
Revered British grunge band Bush offer their eighth album to date, The Kingdom, in an ambitious attempt to redefine their sound while drawing inspiration from their past. However, despite their aspirations to match stadium rock contemporaries with a grungier and heavier edge, Bush largely fails to set foot in either camp firmly enough to make The Kingdom a meaningful new release for the band.
Bringing the same electronic-laced alternative rock sound from their 2017 album Black and White Rainbows, Bush clearly attempts to evolve their newly found style with some solid instrumental work, as evidenced in their stand-out track Quicksand. Through the layering of Gavin Rossdale’s matured vocals, Bush display their steady capacity for creating hook-ready rock tracks with an almost drone-like quality, defining the song’s place on the album. Equally, Blood River showcases the potential of Chris Traynor’s guitarwork, where a strong central riff takes the tune’s rhythmic structure forward.
However, these stronger moments of The Kingdom are too often overshadowed by a confusing production style, derivative song structure and aimless, occasionally cringe-inducing lyrics. While Bush’s ambitions to maximise their sound are obvious, numbers like the aforementioned Quicksand and Bullet Holes feel overblown and drowned in fuzz, in contrast to lesser tracks such as Our Time Will Come and Ghosts in the Machine, displaying a decidedly more subdued tone.
Too frequently, The Kingdom falls back into its own rhythm of strong opening riffs and drumbeats before lapsing into a set number of melodic verses, asserting the album’s radio rock intention with huge-sounding choruses of little substance. Regrettably, Bush takes every opportunity to emulate the intensity and melodrama of their stadium rock peers but comes across decidedly monotone.
Worsening this effect is Rossdale’s bizarre lyrical approach, with the vocal-oriented focus of The Kingdom highlighting clunky and underwhelming inner monologues throughout. References are made to intense romance, drugs, death and even Star Wars, yet none stick or form a cohesive or earnest expression of who Rossdale is beyond the more passionate rock vocalists he is attempting to appear as.
While Bush’s determination is admirable and occasionally pays off, The Kingdom is a regrettably unremarkable release in the band’s maturing discography. One can only hope that Bush will look to their past for future inspiration instead of settling for a hollow imitation of their peers.
The Kingdom is released on 17th July 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Bush’s website here.
Watch the video for Flowers on a Grave here: