Monday, May 02, 2005

The new Garbage

I realized I never wrote down anything about Garbage's new album Bleed Like Me. I probably should.

Preface -- Garbage's Version 2.0 is probably the album I have spent more hours listening to than any other. From about 1999 to 2003, it was in my Honda's CD changer pretty much nonstop, usually in slot number 6 because that was easy to remember. If there were ever a time where I didn't know what to listen to, or my iPod was burned out, or there was nothing on the radio (highly likely), I'd just start that disc from the beginning and listen all the way through, skipping only track 5 in the process. What the hell's so great about it? I don't know, and even most Garbage fans seem to consider it a step down from the self-titled debut album. But to me, there is no greater source of pure sonic pleasure than the combination of overproduced backgrounds (like, probably around 92,000 tracks) with overly distorted Shirley Manson singing her overly cynical lyrics. It should be unlistenable, or at least tired and cliche, but it's neither (at least, to me). I really, really love it and I don't think I'll ever get sick of it. I can be convinced that there's much better music out there, I can be convinced that one guy with a sharp mind and a guitar is a lot more impressive than a bunch of super-producers with a warehouse full of electronics, but all that philosophy becomes pretty irrelevant once the chorus of "Temptation Waits" kicks in 40 seconds into the album.

So, yeah, I like Version 2.0 quite a bit. I also like Garbage's first album, though not to the same fanatical degree, and I think that Beautiful Garbage, their third, is more or less a piece of crap. Thus was the mindset with which I began listening to their four-years-in-the-procrastinating fourth album, Bleed Like Me. I had expectations that were, simultaneously, unbearably high and unbearably low. So I guess I was ready for anything.

Anyway, Bleed Like Me has its moments. The first single, "Why Do You Love Me," has all the forward momentum that was completely lacking on the last album. It wouldn't be out of place on Version 2.0, and I think that's mostly a good thing. The other track I really like is "Metal Heart," which is more confidence-inspiring because it's highly catchy without being a retread of anything 1998-ish. What I like less are the slower songs. The title track is pretty good, but I was hoping for more of the electronically drenched downbeat stuff that Garbage did so well in their earlier years. So I guess the whole thing is a mixed bag. But it's a step in the right direction, and proof that Garbage can still survive in a day when every third band is using a laptop.

Yeah, I don't usually write about music. No, really! I know you'd never be able to tell based on this Pitchfork-quality review, but it's the truth.

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