The inevitable British take on the Seattle sound leans more toward Nirvana's distorted guitars and cynical lyrics than toward Pearl Jam's classic rock guitar riffs and sincere words. Forcing vowels out of his throat while moaning that "fame is a whore", Gavin Rossdale sounds eerily like Kurt Cobain might have with a British accent. And a few of the songs on the band's debut album, like "Little Things", with its four-chord riff and loud-soft-loud dynamic, openly invite the comparison.
But Rossdale's tunes, which typically feature stripped-down verses invaded by SCUDs of feedback squeaks and guitar belches, unfold in an anti-pop way reminiscent of the darker bands in the Seattle pack. Choruses are often delayed, and not always recognisable. In their place, guitarists Rossdale and Dave Parsons build layers of distortion that follow the cynicism and confusion of Rossdale's lyrics without offering an easy release. The songs, whether about sex ("Body"), love ("Glycerine", an electric-guitar-plus-strings ballad) or terrorism ("Bomb", based on a real London bombing), share a feeling that nothing works out quite like it's supposed to.
1. Everything Zen
4. Little Things
12. X Girlfriend