Sixteen Stone


Trauma, 1994

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Whoever said Stone Temple Pilots were copycat grunge needs to be shot. This is copycat grunge, alternative by the numbers, whatever you want to call it. Bush was basically England's contribution to the grunge movement, but while they got the sound right, they missed the spirit.

Nothing about Sixteen Stone is original, and only about a third of it is worthwhile. Aside from the hits, the rest of this is just riff-heavy sludge, meaningless lyrics and depressing predictability. Naturally, it's all minor-chords, downbeats and depressing noise. At least Nirvana had a sense of humor.

Things start well with "Everything Zen," one heck of a hard rock trip with some good guitar leads. Had the rest of the album been like this, it would have been elevated to at least Pearl Jam's worse moments, but Bush is intent on being liked by all the kids in school, darn it. "Swim" and "Bomb" are grunge-by-numbers; some heavy riffs here, some slow bass there, stop/start dynamics everywhere, staccato lyrics that stop after every third line (sample: "I'm swimming to you / Flame on Earth desire...Fame is a whore"). That she is, and you guys would know.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Little Things" was another hit, but it's a rewrite of Nirvana's "In Bloom" with none of that track's melodicism or wry lyrics. "Comedown" has an interesting bass riff, but it's hard to feel anything at Gavin Rossdale's whiny meaningless lyrics. Only "Machinehead" offers something interesting, alternating a cool riff with some tasty power chords and Rossdale's robotic-sounding vocals/lyrics, which make sense in the context.

The main problem with the post-grungers like Bush and Creed is that they tried too hard to be serious but didn't have the anger or chops to back it up, like the bands they try to emulate. Rossdale tries to be Kurt Cobain in many spots on the album, sounding uncomfortably like him on "Testosterone," which sounds just like someone trying to write a Nirvana song circa In Utero.

After 45 minutes of sludge, the disc lurches to a conclusion with "Glycerine," which does not belong here at all. It's a slow ballad propelled by lush strings and Rossdale's best vocal performance (which isn't saying much), but it works better than it should. This is followed by the forgettable "Alien" and a one-minute punk ditty called "X-Girlfriend," with Rossdale aping Cobain repeating "You won't call me when you're down" over a fast three-chord approach. It's the only humorous part of the disc and ends much too soon, but since it's a Nirvana ripoff anyway, I don't care.

The bonus track is a slower take of "Comedown" without drums or bass, and if you make it that far without falling asleep, congratulations. Personally, I prefer my alternative with a bit more emotion, a lot better songwriting and a heck of a lot more originality than Bush offers on this debut. Sadly, it's the best disc in their canon.

Rating: D+

User Rating: C



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