This is Garbage’s fifth studio album and their first in seven years, but it could just as easily have been made right after 1998’s 2.0. From the You Look So Fine-esque intro of Shut Your Mouth, to the touches of The Trick is to Keep Breathing in Sugar, to I Hate You in its entirety, Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker have returned to the past to bring their latest work to life.
The album is not a complete return to 2.0, as there are nods to other artists past and present throughout. Felt and Bright Tonight both have touches of the Underground Lovers, there’s something of Hole in Big Bright World, and even a more contemporary nod to The Gossip in What Girls are Made Of. Man on a Wire feels like an epilogue to When I Grow Up, and Beloved Freak would be an otherwise typical Garbage ballad if it weren’t for the clever use of This Little Light of Mine.
Shirley Manson’s gone on record that the band got back together on the condition that they injected fun back into the music, and there’s definitely a sense of that. In many ways, opening track Automatic Systematic Habit is a big ‘fuck you’ to the studio executive types she’s pointed out as a major contributing factor to the band’s ersatz split-up, and the single Blood for Poppies has a frantic ‘we were always here’ in its soaring guitars and chorus with its “they know I’m here, just out of sight.”
If there is a really sore spot in the album, it’s the clunkiness of some of the lyrics in The One. The chorus feels like something an Eastern European band would spit out: “Call me a lawyer // I want to micromanage.” They are a blip in an otherwise smoothly produced album, as would be expected of producers Vig and (Manson’s husband) Billy Bush.
This is the Garbage we know and love, a tapestry of angst and anger. It’s the usual mix of guitar riffs, electronic samples and Manson’s omnipresent voice, soft or powerful as the music demands.
The video for Blood for Poppies and a Rdio feed of Garbage’s new album Not Your Kind of People is below.