Monday, May 14th 2012
Power. Rock. Sex. Garbage. They’re back after seven years.
We’ve been keeping up with Shirley Manson and Co. over the past few months as they successfully returned to the stage at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles and then again at Edgefest 22 in Dallas, and now the band’s new record is finally out.
Not Your Kind of People, Garbage’s first record since 2005′s Bleed Like Me, is… well, Garbage, sounding like they haven’t missed a beat over the last few years. But does the world really need another Garbage LP?
Automatic Systematic Habit kicks things off with chirpy synth sounds that quickly take a backseat to the song’s overpowering, droning bass groove. The track makes a pretty big misstep by covering up Shirley Manson’s sultry vocals with a number of robotic vocal effects, at times making the scarlet-haired songstress sound as if she’s being crushed by the layering on her voice. It’s unfortunate, and is a problem that shows up a few times on the record.
Lead single Blood For Poppies is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Manson’s vocals really soar during the chorus while the rest of the track is dominated by a simple, hypnotic bass line and guitar work that alternates, shimmering during the verses then sizzling during the chorus.
Control is a monster of a track, opening with Manson’s voice and some downtrodden piano before Butch Vig comes out of left field with a harmonica hook that sounds like a warning siren. Immediately afterwards the track really comes to life, offering a pummeling bass line and giving Manson’s voice the space it needs to really soar when the chorus rolls around. This is one of the few times on the record that Garbage seems to nail bringing their sound into 2012, and it’s a highlight because of it.
Not Your Kind of People‘s title track is one of the weakest on the record, a slow waltz of a song that remains unoffensive but ultimately goes nowhere. This is the kind of track that hopefully never shows up on a concert setlist because it’ll most certainly become the band’s bathroom break anthem.
I Hate Love and Sugar are decent enough, but the latter once again shows that Garbage has a bit of trouble with the slower, ballad-like tracks. It’s just too boring, and while Sugar has some gorgeous string arrangements, it’s not a track that people are ever going to go out of their way to listen to.
The one-two punch of Battle In Me and Man On A Wire creates one of the strongest sections on the disc. Both tracks are seated firmly in the rock world, the former offering a percussive start-stop guitar riff that helps draw in attention while the second throws some pretty heavy riffs straight in your face. As far as Garbage is concerned, Man On A Wire is among the heaviest tracks on their repertoire and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it become a staple of their live show.
Apart from the slower tracks which Garbage really struggled with on this record, Not Your Kind Of People is not a bad album. But track after track, these songs could be placed on the band’s prior records and no one would suspect a break in the space-time continuum. This album was made for existing Garbage fans, which is fine, but the world of music has changed significantly over the last decade or so – if they were planning on some major comeback, an album that reads like a stylistic greatest hits for the band is not the way to do it.