It's been a long decade since the Golden State, which was a critically dismal album from the band and the departure of original guitarist Nigel Pulsford led the group to take a break. Getting a new guitar player and bassist, the band came back with a lot to prove. This new album doesn't quite do it. It's incoherent, babbling and malformed.
The mixing of the album is less "ethereal and lilting" as earlier albums have been described, and instead takes the status quo approach of "everything louder than everything else," which has never served Bush music well. Bush songs have usually been written with the dimensional sound in mind like was present on Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase. This compression method is no more apparent than in the third track's lead-off with a heavily compressed drum and bass riff with a really loud guitar riff over the top.
The lyrical writing is on par more with Golden State than Razorblade or Stone. It's simple, melodic rhyming and the words seem repetitive on the song structure. The writing seems hurried and disjoined from Gavin.
The musical styles seem to clash here, Gavin's raspy vocals are put over sugar pop tracks like "Afterlife" with it's uptempo instruments and a sound similar to Daughtry. The guitar playing feels more frantic than the music calls for, with quick riff changes and layers upon layers of effects. It just seems like the band spent more time during the making of this album playing with new toys instead of writing quality songs.
Now all of this isn't to dissuade the casual listener of Bush albums, because this isn't terrible bile from the likes of the pop world. It's just a more pop music version of Bush. The songs are of much better quality than the current din of the airwaves. It is a new direction for the group, and it reflects the diverse personalities of the group. So it's a 50/50 split of how you'll like it. It's not for the fans who fell in love with Sixteen Stone, as there are several piano-driven ballads on this album, but it's more for the people who liked Golden State.
As far as this reviewer, I have to listen to it more before I like it. But of the whole album I recommend listening to "The Mirror of the Signs," "The Sounds of Winter," "The Afterlife," and "I Believe In You." Other than that, it's not really miraculous. The effort doesn't prove what the band has become.
1."The Mirror of the Signs" 4:192."The Sound of Winter" 3:283."All My Life" 3:224."The Afterlife" 4:455."All Night Doctors" 4:176."Baby Come Home" 4:157."Red Light" 3:318."She's a Stallion" 4:369."I Believe in You" 3:1110."Stand Up" 4:1911."The Heart of the Matter" 4:2212."Be Still My Love" 4:48