Sounding like the opening notes of Cream’s White Room if it were played at the Gates of Mars, Garbage’s first album in seven years Not Your Kind of People that dropped today, proves these ‘90s sonic trailblazers are still going to stay one step ahead of the tired noise that presently passes for music on modern rock radio.
The opening track is Automatic Systematic Habit, that after it winds up releases into a propulsive electro clash pump, one that will have new listeners pogoing their dormitory rooms, and vets like myself knowing it was well worth the wait. Red headed Irish dream Shirley Manson’s voice is electronically distorted like she is a terminator out of the Fox TV series she acted in, while the band rested from their touring burnout from their 2006 effort “Bleed Like Me.” But, her sure fire Scottish gusto still pushes through the production, tearing into our ears and into our libidos.
“I won’t be your dirty little secret,” she proclaims, almost making a statement about how Garbage has never been appreciated. Their 1997 effort Version 2.0 debuted with the aptly titled single Push It, solidifying them as rock critic darlings. It was their fully erect cock, their fully extended middle finger to traditional alternative radio. Powered by the producing and percussion genius of Butch Vig, who was behind Nirvana’s Never mind, everyone knew it was going to be an impossible album to beat.
Thusly, the next five years or so mainstream radio wasn’t kind to Garbage. With the narrow-minded programmers wanting only sure-fire hits, their experimental next few treks were only appreciated by their fervent fan base, which I am proud to be a fan of.
I will be brutally honest about their recent album, though, that it is far from one of their best effort. Many of the middle tracks on the album, like the title track and Control both sound like strippers dream dance songs in lyrics and pace, getting a little too bogged down in the lyrics, distortion and melodrama. They are more like good cruising songs for coming home from the bar to, at the crack of dawn while watching the sun come up. But, make no mistake this is a solid B- effort by Garbage, which, in the world of other bands is a solid A-.
This album reminds me of The Killers last effort Day & Age, whom after putting out their mega-seller Sam’s Town had nothing to lose. There is peppering of the ‘80s in this stew, as there was in that effort. Some of the electronic twangs will make you nostalgic. But there is a futuristic vibe as well. It also doesn’t hurt that Vig was keeping fresh producing Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown that won a Best Rock Album Grammy.
I Hate Love’s hypnotic dance beat sounds like it is from a nightclub on the spaceship taking off at the end of the world. It will jettison you across your living room, since close-minded club DJ’s will probably not be caught dead playing the track at a club near you. Hopefully I am wrong. Again Manson declares from the bottom of her dark heart, pulling no punches with her lyrics, “Love makes you desperate, and feeling a fool. Love makes you ruthless, and love makes you cruel. And love makes you crazy, with nothing but lies. Love promises nothing, and then your love dies.”
There were two tracks that were spilled onstage by the band on their first tour dates at the El Rey in Hollywood, and at many music fests across the country over the last month before the album’s release. Battle in Me and Man on a Wire, both in title and content are machine gun drills to the mosh pit. Fogies like me will even be out there fighting for position when Duke Erickson and Steve Marker shoot out these hooks you will be humming for the next few weeks of your life.
The coda is Beloved Freak, a testament to a band that now has no formal record deal, and is smartly putting out their album independently. Pick it up online right now. The lush last track sends you off into a satisfying musical afterlife of affirmation. “Where we’re going we’ll remain. When we’re gone we’ll remain…This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…So you stand beloved freak, and the world is lying at your feet. Let it shine.” Amen, Garbage, my beloved freaks. Forever shine more than the others.