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BUSH IS BACK

Gavin Rossdale may be past 30 (and closer to 35, even), but he hasn't put his guitar away yet. The charismatic, good-looking (admit it!) lead singer can rock as hard as ever, as shown on Bush's latest release, "Golden State."

In stores today, it's the fourth CD from the English band from Shepherd's Bush (near London). Bush released its first album in 1994 and experienced almost overnight success with hits like "Everything Zen" and "Machinehead." They followed it up with the also popular "Razorblade Suitcase" in 1997, but the band's 1999 release, "The Science of Things," was quickly forgotten when its first single "The Chemicals Between Us" slipped off the charts.

"Golden State" proves that Bush is back, and we won't be forgetting anytime soon. The album makes a return to Bush's original rock roots, while still showing the progress they've made as musicians and songwriters. The first single, "The People That We Love" (originally titled "Speed Kills" but changed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks) contains fast beats and driving guitars.

Rossdale admits that the album took longer than expected but the extra time seems to have paid off. One of the most catching, standout tracks (and possibly the next single) is "Head Full of Ghosts," a mid-tempo but melancholy song where Rossdale's aching, passionate voice perfectly conveys thought-provoking lyrics like: "Where is my head? Where are my bones?" This combination is what really works in Bush; Rossdale's voice has the effect of making lyrics that might be considered pretentious if written by another band seem natural and fitting.

"Superman" and "Float" are both notable songs, opening with strong guitar patterns and eventually leading up to catchy melodic choruses. In contrast, "Fugitive" is choppy, with whining guitars and slicing harmonies.

Solid drum beats merge with inconstant guitar riffs in "Hurricane," adding more bold lyrics like the first line, "The sky's ripped open by the sun."

Two of the songs on "Golden State" are slow ballads that aren't quite what Bush is known for, but nonetheless they provide a welcome relaxing sound amidst the rocking guitars and crashing drums. The softest track, "Inflatable," demonstrates that when blended with mellow string arrangements and melodic acoustic guitar patterns, Rossdale's rugged voice can be both powerful and poignant in its upper octave.

Rather than reiterating the clich topics and relentless power chords of most rock bands these days, Bush has maintained a unique melodic rock sound, wide array of song subjects and altogether good balance of soft, mid-tempo and hard tracks. "Golden State" is overall a fun, upbeat yet thoughtful album worthy of listening to, even if you felt the need to sell "The Science of Things" back to Media Play.

Amanda Pendolino is a junior at Clarence High School.

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