The shelf life often expires for bands that go on hiatus, but Garbage hasn’t spoiled.
The quartet of three American musicians and Scottish singer Shirley Manson pioneered electronic/rock fusion in the 1990s, petered out as the 2000s wore on and just now gets back in the game with “Not Your Kind of People,” its first all-new release in seven years.
It’s a bit of a creaky return — Garbage isn’t as fresh today as it once was — but this isn’t one of those sad comebacks, either.
Spitfire Manson has her tongue in cheek again, chewing on it till it bleeds. “Lies, lies, lies/You love those lies,” she exclaims in the bracing grit of aggressive opener “Automatic System Habit.” And if that song seems like the band is capitulating too much to modern trends, hang in there, because Garbage has a few tricks in its bag.
On the title track, layers and layers of vocals cushion such Manson lines as, “We are not your kind of people/You seem kind of phony/Everything’s a lie,” creating an oddly empowering, trippy ballad. Also, the cinematic bitterness of “I Hate Love” is quintessential Garbage as Manson seems both seductive and meditative in the driving rhythm: “Love makes you desperate and feeling a fool.”
Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson keep the electrobuzz circulating as they fuel the locomotive gloom of “Control,” the breezy alt-rock psychedelia of “Felt,” the taut, Afghanistan-alluding “Blood for Poppies,” and the creepy crawl of “Sugar,” where a vampirish Mason beckons, “Don’t make me wait, just give me sugar.”
Still, the excitement is dampened with the unfocused anger of “Battle in Me,” the oversprawling “Big Bright World,” the half-baked “Man on a Wire” ... And the would-be anthem “Beloved Freak,” which equates being misinterpreted to being robbed, blatantly panders to outcasts (“You’re not alone”).
Lady Gaga owns the Little Monsters now, and Garbage is cleaning up behind her.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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