Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Trauma Of Horrible Music: Bush's Sixteen Stone

The Good: The occasional musical hook, in truth NONE!
The Bad: Infantile lyrics, Incoherent music, Horrible vocals, Auditory garbage
The Basics: If you've ever wondered how bad pop-rock music could get, pick Sixteen Stone up and listen to it. Otherwise, don't bother!

This beef has been a long time in the coming. Bush's album Sixteen Stone was the album my roommate was listening to in our dorm room the first time we met. The relationship never got better. Just like my roommate for that first awful year of college back in the day, Bush represents pretty much everything that is horrible in an experience, in this case a "musical" one.

The popularity of the band Bush is arguably defined by the good looks of the lead singer, Gavin Rosdale. As soon as those supposedly good looks fade or the audience grows up, Bush will cease to exist as a band. Proof to this effect is in the fact that the band has never had as much success as it did with Sixteen Stone; all of the college age-crush buying people with money have all graduated to a budget since.

The plus sides of Sixteen Stone? I'll give them this: their vocabulary is better than 95% of the musical artists out there. Obviously someone in this band knows more than the 500 average words used in music today. The one star that this album gets is for that alone. (Would that I could give this album zero stars! Perhaps even the vocabulary would not save it that fate.)

Now to the negatives. First, like the deplorable novel The Book of Margery Kempe, this album is predictable and droll in style. That's not to say that some of the sounds of the album aren't catchy. Even after years of trying to repress them, I can still remember how "Comedown" and "Glycerine" sound. Actually, that's not terribly difficult; they sound alike. But the sound is not developed or interesting; it grates on the ears and any insinuation of the music into the listener bears only the most unpleasant memories of the songs.

My biggest beef is the lyrics. It's not often that I try to say something with the most simple, basic term, but here it fully applies with all its nuance; The lyrics are stupid. The level of vocabulary, gold star, what they say, black hole of dumbness. The lyricist for Bush, I suspect, opened a dictionary, flipped through and picked words at random for all most of these songs say. The angst is unenduring, the rhymes are silly and so contrived, the music is unimaginative. You end up with nonsensical garbage like "We live in a wheel / where everyone steals" and they rhyme that with "strawberry fields." Curse them for even alluding to The Beatles!

Despite my early trauma with this album, I picked up a copy to listen to it. Why? My thought was "It couldn't be as bad as I remembered it." From the first strains of the awful "Everything Zen" (which sounds like it was recorded after Gavin had had sandpaper line his vocal chords) to the final noises of the last unspeakably bad track, it WAS as bad as I remembered it.

The guitars screech and make noise far more often than anything even remotely passable as music and the drums are loud as opposed to rhythmic. This band lacks any instrumental maturity.

The vocals are all scratchy and supporting vocals add nothing but similar screeching to the voice of Rosdale. This harms the lyrics only by making us have to work to hear how inane they are.

If you have absolutely no taste for intelligent lyrics, coherent thought, and well expressed emotions that go deeper than the surface, then Sixteen Stone might very well be for you. If you're tired of the faux anger of rich young people with greasy hair and perfect teeth, put on anything but this album.

For other rock albums, please check out my reviews of:
Heathen Chemistry - Oasis
Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell - Meat Loaf
Greatest Hits - Red Hot Chili Peppers


For other music reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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