Spun: Institute

My 13-year-old self is presently screaming at me to stop what I’m about to say while I still have the chance, but it must be said: I can no longer buy into pretty-boy Gavin Rossdale’s persona like I could in my teenage years. There is no denying the former Bush frontman has a talent for catchy, radio-friendly, grunge-inspired rock and Distort Yourself, the first album with his new band Institute, is no different.

Institute is certainly much heavier than Bush and, thanks to producer and former Helmet member Page Hamilton, sports a polished sheen foreign to Rossdale’s earlier material. Distort Yourself isn’t horrible, but it’s been done repeatedly, and better, by groups such as Finger 11 and 30 Seconds to Mars. The biggest problem is Rossdale’s fixation on the same inane lyrics which seemed so thoughtful to this 13-year-old, yet have little relevance today. It is hard not to laugh at the intensity he can muster for drivel like “When Animals Attack,” either a terrible metaphor or a song about the FOX show by the same name.

Institute is background music at best. Not surprisingly, the most solid song on the album is “Ambulances” featuring Rossdale’s successful wife Gwen Stefani of No Doubt; unfortunately her vocals are so low in the mix they’re hardly there at all. Could Rossdale be harbouring some feelings of jealousy? Despite my inner turmoil and after an intense battle with my Id, I’m going to have to say better luck next time Gavin, my sweet.