Album Reviews by Nigel A. Messenger, EDF and Mark Bayross
Review by Nigel A. Messenger
Garbage at last release their third album in October called BEAUTIFULGARBAGE. A ‘Beautiful Garbage’ and some will say be prepared for a shock. I would say be prepared for a shockwave, one that’s going to be so big it will not only satisfy existing fans but bring a lot more into the Garbage following.
The new album is unmistakably the Garbage sound but it’s gone where no Garbage music has gone before. Garbage has got up and stretched its musical legs, keeping that multi-layered electronic sound that makes Garbage what they are but adding doorways into other musical styles, not ones that are a million light years from their own sound but styles that expand their range while surprising everyone.
The first time you listen to BEAUTIFULGARBAGE you will undoubtedly be surprised. You’ve heard the first Garbage album and the second VERSION 2.0 so many times you’re probably expecting more of the same. So now Garbage have challenged you with something a little different. And not just one thing that’s different, each song seems to encompass another musical style.
From the almost power pop mixed into ANDROGYNY, the 1950’s-esq CAN’T CRY THESE TEARS, the INXS reminiscent TILL THE DAY I DIE, the dreamy CUP OF COFFEE and the disco beat mixed into the amazing CHERRY LIPS. BREAKING UP THE GIRL and PARADE seem to both be a natural progression from earlier Garbage songs like SPECIAL and the movie inspired UNTOUCHABLE should immediately be snapped up as a movie soundtrack.
You may need to play the album a couple of times to fully appreciate and accept some of the new sounds although the real Garbage fan should already know how much range Garbage have got, just listen to some of the ‘B’ sides and extra tracks and mixes on the extra versions released of their various singles in the past.
And while we are on the subject of singles expect this album to double as a future greatest hits because there are so many possible singles releases here!
Some of my favourites have to be in no particular order:
SHUT YOUR MOUTH, ANDROGYNY, CHERRY LIPS, BREAKING UP THE GIRL, PARADE and the incredible UNTOUCHABLE.
So to round up:
A different album than you might expect although with a familiar sound.
A brilliant album encompassing wider musical styles.
An album that equals the first two and takes you on a fantastic journey that you’ll quickly get used to and find impossible to turn off.
Totally addictive, I love it!
Review by EDF
Here comes that difficult third album and it is hard to believe that this might never have been recorded due to an exhausting never ending world tour. After recharging their batteries, Garbage spent thirteen months at Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig’s recording studio, Smart Studios. Compared to the slightly over-produced VERSION 2.0, BEAUTIFULGARBAGE is, for its own good, a step back and back to the simpler song structure of the first album. While the usual Garbage trademarks are all here, there are a few songs that just might grab them a few new fans.
ANDROGYNY, the first single to be taken from the album feels closer to the first Garbage album as is TILL THE DAY I DIE. The Phil Spector-like CAN’T CRY THESE TEARS ANYMORE could be a future single. UNTOUCHABLE hints at a different musical genre as it’s got all the trademarks for it to be remixed as a Hip-Hop track.
CUP OF COFFEE has a movie soundtrack feel to which Manson sings having a cup of coffee and being dumped by her lover at the same time. SO LIKE A ROSE takes that lazy Twin Peaks/WICKED GAME type route via a long drawn out wailing guitar. Chris Isaac would have been proud.
SHUT YOUR MOUTH shows the trappings of being in the limelight. The chorus reflects what the public generally might think about media attention seeking celebrities. SILENCE IS GOLDEN is a contraction as it’s one of Garbage’s louder tracks. Here everyone ignores Manson and no matter what she does to gain attention, no one takes a blind bit of notice of her.
CHERRY LIPS lyrics hints that Manson is verbally attacking someone and as the song is dedicated to The Terminator, you can only wonder whom that might be. BREAKING UP THE GIRL comes across as a warning Manson makes herself that certain events within the music industry could easily finish off your career.
DRIVE YOU HOME is Garbage’s most touching song yet about how much you appreciate someone watching out for you while you treat them like dirt.
It could be said that Garbage has taken the easy way out by making a safe sounding album but they have proved that they have enough ideas to make excellent albums. Shirley Manson’s lyrics are more personal and slightly darker than usual with the music counteracting it, making the album less dark than it could have been. Overall Garbage seems to know what the group is all about and have tried to have a bit of fun with the songs and it makes the album all the better for it. Hopefully this isn’t the last we have heard of Garbage.
Review by Mark Bayross
The third album from the music marketing executive’s dream that is Garbage sees the band shooting off in so many directions it’s hard to keep up. If the overly-simplistic preceding single ANDROGYNY left you initially baffled (as it did me), you’ll be pleased to know it’s probably the weakest track here. And like the single, repeated listening to BEAUTIFULGARBAGE pays off.
Opener SHUT YOUR MOUTH is probably the most conventional Garbage song here (swaggering guitars, Shirley Manson’s claws out), as the album swiftly detours via the aforementioned ANDROGYNY into the almost Slade-like music hall exuberance of CAN’T CRY THESE TEARS. Yes, I did say Slade. You won’t believe your ears.
From here on, Garbage continue to vary the program. TILL THE DAY I DIE is swaggering techno-rock à la “Vow”, while the Lynchian torch song CUP OF COFFEE is contrasted brutally by the crushing guitars of SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Next to this, the Ronettes-style 60’s trash-pop of CHERRY LIPS (GO BABY GO!) is as incongruous as it sounds.
While sonically, Garbage have stepped back to a world of Phil Spector, 60s wall of sound – female backing harmonies abound – lyrically, the themes are as dark as ever. When Shirley sings “I never said I was perfect” on the mournful DRIVE YOU HOME and “nobody loves you when you’re gone” on the chilly Cold War vibe of NOBODY LOVES YOU, the effect is unsettling, disturbing even.
As one would expect from Butch Vig and co., the production is superbly glossy – the explosive guitars of PARADE carry yet another typically catchy Garbage melody, while the chorus of UNTOUCHABLE is bombarded by impressive blasts of taut electronics. As with previous albums, BEAUTIFULGARBAGE closes with its most delicate moment. SO LIKE A ROSE is a stripped-down echo-chamber ballad and a perfect way to end a rollercoaster of an album.
BEAUTIFULGARBAGE is a fascinating collage of sounds and textures that, while they seem to have been influenced as much by the band’s contribution to the last Bond movie as by the current omnipresence of hip-hop, works in a cohesive, coherent way. Depending on your mood, selective programming of the CD player will create totally different listening experience, but the album does still work as a whole.
Beautifully ambitious (there’s even some mixing desk software that allows you to re-arrange individual samples of four tracks, edit them and save them for posterity)…and you’ll need to be an expert in origami to get the CD back into the packaging.