The first half of Bush’s eighth studio album, The Kingdom, could have been unpacked from a 90’s time capsule. Their lyrics are angry and obscurely rebellious, but most of all restless and confused at how to change the endless drudgery they’re stuck with. Bush’s consistent discography aims at the workingman with a rebel streak, with security at a day job, yet stuck in a repetitive rut.
Good grunge is essentially a soundtrack for a zombie army stomping through the muck on an overcast day. There is not a lot to differentiate song to song, but the rhythm continues marching along, perfectly setting the mood for a day working in the garage, gym, or in a garage gym. Bush is a modern quintessential example of good grunge, and they deliver an album that does not disappoint if you know what to expect.
The latter half of The Kingdom is still standard Bush, but they flex their style subtly to show off some added pizzazz. “Send in the Clowns” takes on the spirit of Sum 41 to embrace the insanity of the current times, “Undone” quiets the instrumentation to a bare whisper to join vocalist Gavin Rossdale on an intimate soul search, and “Our Time Will Come” dabbles in some Iron Maiden adjacent, dark-fantasy rock. The band’s core DNA is present in each deviation from the standard Bush formula of moody lyrics set to rock riffs, without ever stepping away from what fans have come to expect in the band’s nearly thirty-year, on-and-off journey.
Bush continues to focus on an acoustic accompaniment of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals that rock bands devoutly relied upon before synthesizers were interwoven into everything popular. If any song from The Kingdom were to accidentally play on a local oldies station, it would be hard for listeners to separate it from other grunge rock of the nineties, including Bush’s earlier work. The acoustic backing practically dates their latest album as being older than it is, which will draw in fans over thirty while passing by those born in the new millennia.
There is something refreshing about The Kingdom‘s lack of high-toned electronic backing that is standard in most of today’s new music, especially with anything designed for the radio. Bush was not trying to reinvent the wheel here. By this point, they have wedged themselves firmly within a grunge-rock formula they cannot shake. Their music has earned a nostalgic sentiment, with Bush’s lyrics speaking to the unsatisfied masses who have no idea how to reshape the rat maze they were born into. The formula works because while the world has changed dramatically since Bush’s inception, a lot of the typical day-to-day drudgery is still the same, and fans need new songs to get through the same old routine.