You may remember Gavin Rossdale as the frontman of post-grunge rockers Bush, or perhaps those who have seen the 2005 flick "Constantine" may have noticed his name in the credits. However, it's fair to say that he's now probably best-known as Mr Gwen Stefani, the husband of the No Doubt singer who has enjoyed a hugely positive critical and commercial reaction to her debut solo material. Rossdale did also attempt to go it alone, but has now formed Institute, with former members of Bush, Rival Schools, and Split Lip.
First off, this does not sound like Bush – anyone hoping it does will be disappointed. "Distort Yourself" is a debut record with a distinctly 'American' sound, lots of heavy direct riffs and thick bass lines. There's no easing into it either – opening track "Bullet-proof Skin" is powerful and displays that Rossdale's distinct vocals haven't changed. The momentum carries through to "When Animals Attack", which is somewhat reminiscent of Korn – but not in a bad way. As on many tracks it is Cache Tolman's bass that drives the song with fierce attitude. It is from here that things go into terminal decline. "Come On Over" drops the pace, is bland, and features clichéd lyrics such as "the good die young". A weak chorus disappoints "Information Age", while the vocals on "Wasteland" are forced and come across as a poor imitation of Kurt Cobain.
Despite it's title, "Heat Of Your Love" isn't a soppy ballad, instead momentarily rescuing the album. Chris Traynor's guitar playing produces a good riff on an anthem with a strong chorus, but it's a false hope. The remainder of the record is unimaginative and unspectacular, which is frustrating after a promising beginning. On this evidence it looks like Mrs Rossdale will still be the breadwinner for the couple.
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