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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Gavin Rossdale

Rating: 4/10 ?

June 9, 2008
It's unfortunately appropriate that the first track from Gavin Rossdale's Wanderlust opens with "Can't Stop the World," a song that repeats the vocal "I been gone too long." Followed by "I don't know what I was thinking." We're not sure either, Gav.

Wanderlust traipses through just about every rock cliché of the past few decades, leaning on a crutch of mediocrity long enough to hobble through to the next track. For all its wanderings, the album ultimately falls flat. Rossdale, the former Bush front man that so many clamored for back in 1994, has yet to rediscover that post-grunge whatever-it-was that he and his bandmates grasped so well on Sixteen Stone and that was very nearly touched upon by Institute, the outsider supergroup outfit Rossdale formed a few years back with members of Helmet, Rival Schools, and Split Lip/Chamberian that came and went faster than you can say Deconstructed.

In lieu of the "vivid, widescreen rock album" Rossdale promises, Wanderlust serves up thirteen tracks written and played to the lowest common musical denominator. Wanderlust may be the kind of album that every artist sans-band fears most, the kind of necessary misfire prior to creating a record that proves he or she is worth their salt. The problem is that it is also the kind of album that calls into question just how talented a songwriter Rossdale was in the first place.

"Frontline" is the closest thing to epic rockness on the album; Josh Freese's drumming lends a much-needed foundation to the track, but his stickwork isn't enough to salvage it. "If You're Not With Us You're Against Us" takes a dark alley turn and might've even passed for a B-side from Razorblade Suitcase if it wasn't so silly. "Another Night in the Hills" is the album's requisite glossy dance track, drug references and all, switching between staccato guitars and keyboard melodies. There are ballads. There are vocal effects. There's even the ever-present electronica flirtation that Rossdale can't ever seem to completely let go of. But it's all weirdly polished and dated and conscious of itself.

It would be easy to shift blame to producer Bob Rock, who left his slick soundboard handprints all over the album, but such finger pointing would imply that the songs themselves could otherwise stand on their own two chords. It is telling, though, that Rock's laundry list of producer credits includes a number of later efforts from bands that peaked in the 1990s, when volume and distortion could cover everything, and never made it back up.

Still, Rossdale's musical endeavors have always seemed to fare better on the American side of the Atlantic, and if he plays his cards right we may hear bits of his musical meanderings popping up in the Gossip Girls and One Tree Hills of the world. But where Wanderlust could possibly go beyond television purgatory remains to be heard. Give the lad a listen, if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But Wanderlust is instantly forgettable. File it away. Put it under Rock. In the meantime, I'm off to listen to "Little Things."

Reviewed by Patrick Sullivan
Wearing plain black t-shirts, LAS contributing writer Pat Sullivan thinks a lot about a lot of different things. He likes thermoses but rarely has occasion to use them. He lives in Brooklyn.

See other reviews by Patrick Sullivan



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