I donít know whatís worse: the fact Garbage has made
one of the most disappointing albums in recent memory, or
the fact I am going to have to write a review saying itís
one of the most disappointing albums in recent memory. Their
self-titled debut rocked this Curve fanís world in
high school--a grinding blend of rock with electronic noodling
that was just this side of industrial, and not to mention
introduced one of the most charismatic front women of her
generation, fiery Scot Shirley Manson. Version 2.0,
the follow-up, wasnít as engaging as its predecessor, but
still featured some ripping piss-and-vinegar tunes in "Push
It" and "I Think Iím Paranoid," and proved
Mansonís developing chops as a lyricist with introspective
fare like "When I Grow Up" and "The Trick Is
To Keep Breathing."
Now weíve arrived at beautifulgarbage, and goddamn
does it suck. Digesting this album is like ripping open ten
packets of Sweet ní Low and pouring them directly down your
throat, then chasing it with a bottle of Bubble Gum Jones
Soda. Almost three years and we get this?
Album opener "Shut Your Mouth" is the closest youíre
going to get to vintage Garbage on this record Ė layered guitars
that whine, then groove into a psychedelic stutter, and over
it all Mansonís assured, confrontational vocals that still
personify the dark side of this bandís unique brand of pop.
And make no mistake: Shirley Manson is still one of the coolest
women in rock, hands down. But as first single "Androgyny"
cues up, you have to wonder when Garbage decided to swap their
spine for the polish of ultra-shiny bleeps and doots. Iíve
never associated the word "annoying" with this band
before, and certainly not Mansonís vocals, but itís the first
that springs to mind when the recurring refrain of boys,
girls comes on like a naughty Catholic schoolgirl. "And
this is a bad thing?", I hear you ask. Well, normally,
no, but here it grates, and here is where the real
problems of beautifulgarbage begin.
Truth is, the rest of the album grates as well, mostly due
to synth effects that manage to distract and cheapen many
of the albumís thirteen tracks. Is that a Mellotron on the
otherwise lovely "Cup Of Coffee"? "íTil The
Day I Die" is loaded with vocal dubs and scratching that
reduces the song to nothing but sad parody, and "Untouchable"
also suffers from abuse of a synth. "Silence Is Golden"
has loads of loud guitars (a novelty on a record that pushes
any organic element to the very back of the mix) but suffers
from overdramatic vocals and strange pacing, creating a mess
of a song--a shame, really, as its theme of abuse is certainly
worth hearing. "Breaking Up The Girl" is "Special
Part 2", which is what partially redeems it, believe
it or not, but whatís with Mansonís penchant for 60s-inspired
backing vocals on this record? Sometimes, it adds a refreshing
reprieve from the sonic Velveeta being slathered on by Butch
Vig (who should know better, donít you think?), as on
the gorgeous "Drive You Home", but other times it
only serves to weigh these songs down in even more sugary
drivel. And trust me, thatís about the last thing this record
needs more of.
By far the most offensive song is the cloying, near-unbearable
"Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)" This song alone personifies
everything that is wrong with this record: processed, superficial,
obvious, and absolutely no soul. Here the cheesy sound effects
are sprinkled liberally, and Mansonís vocals are near cartoonish.
There comes a point where you honestly canít believe this
is the same woman who sounded as if she just ate some guyís
balls for breakfast on "Queer." Why not just eat
some cherry lip-gloss? Iím sure it will have roughly the same
Alright, so itís not all bad. "Canít Cry These Tears"
gets its Debbie Harry on in a big way, and is an excellent
one-off, but is so huge in its nostalgic, girl group-ness,
it loses something within the context of the album. In fact,
if beautifulgarbage suffers from anything, itís lack
of cohesion, as if the band couldnít decide what direction
they wanted to commit to. Roughly half of this album is a
full-on, synth-driven sugar pop album, while the rest hints
at their strength for solid, darker pop, such as the excellent
"Parade", perhaps the strongest cut on the record.
And lyrically, beautifulgarbage is a bit of a revelation
in spots, which is what makes the music itself so infuriating.
Mansonís delving deep into personal issues with relationships
gone awry, abuse, and even discontent with the trappings of
superstardom. With such open bleeding going on lyrically,
youíd think restraint would be called for in the tweaking
department, but alas.
Does beautifulgarbage hint at a new direction for
Garbage? If so, expect a large portion of the bandís fan base
to say "Sayonara." The fact of the matter is that
we have enough pop princesses cluttering the popular music
landscape, and we can scarcely afford to lose Manson in particular
amongst the manufactured masses. Hopefully, this is just an
unfortunate misstep that can be quickly recovered from. Hopefully.
ó Heather Space
- Shut Your Mouth
- Canít Cry These Tears
- ĎTil The Day I Die
- Cup Of Coffee
- Silence Is Golden
- Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)
- Breaking Up The Girl
- Drive You Home
- Nobody Loves You
- So Like a Rose
in the webboard
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!