In 2011, half of Bush reunited and released a mediocre album. I think it was called Gwen, Honey, Why Should I Record a Soulless Solo Album When I Can Cash in and Record a Soulless Bush Album? or something like that. I'm putting my metalhead credentials on the line here, but up until their azoic, disreputable "comeback," I dug Bush. Then again, I listen to a lot of the post-grunge bands that critics sneered at following the untimely passing of Kurt Cobain. Say what you want about Gavin Rossdale, but he knows how to write a tuneful rock song. Admit it; "Everything Zen," "Little Things" and "Greedy Fly" are memorable jams. Admit it, I say!

I could have reviewed Sixteen Stone, Bush's squillion-selling debut that propelled some of the most overplayed radio hits of the 90's (if I hear "Machinehead" one more time, I swear to God), and I very nearly did. However, I thought it would be more interesting to survey 2002's Golden State. Sonically, it's a meat-and-potatoes hard rock album that strips away much of the mechanized experimentation of 1999's The Science of Things. Gone are the cold industrial flourishes of ditties such as "The Chemicals Between Us" and "Letting the Cables Sleep." This is no-frills grunge. Yes, grunge. It would have been huge in 1995.

Of course, it slipped under the radar, and I can't understand why. Was it the marketing? Rap metal was already dying a humiliating death, so I can't point the finger at Limp Bizkit or Crazy Town. Hell, Bush was still popular when "Nookie" was in heavy rotation on MTV. So what gives? I'll leave infecund scrutiny to the scholars. I'd rather talk about the individual tracks on Golden State. "Solutions" and "Headful of Ghosts" are slow-burners, yet they constitute the opening ceremonies. They didn't infect me at first, but now, they are permanently etched into my brain. Talk about deceiving melodies. You'll be humming these choruses for days.

"The People That We Love" is an instant classic. Seriously, it's just as good as "Everything Zen," which is why it was chosen to be the first single. "Superman" and "Hurricane" are catchy mid-tempo numbers that occupy the midsection of Golden State. We don't hear a ballad until "Inflatable," and holy smegma, it's gorgeous. Maybe I'm a pussy, but if I imbibed enough vodka, I could put this fucker on repeat and cry myself to sleep. Other highlights include the frantic "Reasons," the expressive "Out of This World" and the groove-centric "Float." We even get a fuming, meteoric punk song in the form of "My Engine is With You."

On the dark side of the moon, Gavin's vocal patterns/intonations begin to blend together towards the end of the record. His bag of tricks is only so spacious. And I still haven't warmed up to "Fugitive" or "Land of the Living." There is nothing innovative here, and if you don't care for Bush, you won't care for Golden State. This isn't the kind of band that will win over a naysayer with warped time signatures or meticulous guitar solos. But hey, I have fun revisiting their first four efforts. This one, in particular, failed to catch on with the mainstream, but at least it sounds like Bush. That's more than I can say for The Sea of Memories. Blech.

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