Alternative/industrial rock darlings Garbage released its fifth album, Not Your Kind of People last month, and the record shows no signs of wear or dust after a seven year break. The band steps slightly away from the alterna-pop that earned them radio domination in the '90s, with synths and slower songs, but it still sounds like a Garbage record.
Garbage recently performed at Marquee Theatre and apparently it was stellar show. My Facebook feed was clogged with its praise and friends saying they were surprised I didn't go-- I have seen Garbage a few times and I was busy swooning over M. Ward and fIREHOSE. It's been awhile since I have seen Garbage live, which is a shame, because over the years I have never seen them put on a bad show.
The band was formed by legendary producer Butch Vig and some of his producer buddies. Vig already had Nirvana's Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream under his belt, so Garbage was off to a promising start. The initial set up was having Butch Vig sing, but that didn't quite work out, so the guys recruited Manson after seeing her perform with her previous band, Angelfish. At first, she didn't know who Vig was, but once she did her homework, she joined Garbage without hesitation. Good call, Manson!
A decade or so ago, I saw Alanis Morrissette with my mom (hey, I was a tween back then) and we snickered about some band named Garbage that was opening the show. Shirley Manson had her arm in a cast, but still had all eyes on her thanks to her energy and charisma. As great as Alanis was, Garbage stole the show. I could tell right then that this was a band to watch, and I was right. Garbage returned the following year with what was then a little known band called The White Stripes.
When Garbage released its first album, the band shook up expectations of '90s music as this edgy somewhat electronic, somewhat industrial girl band with dark and catchy lyrics.
Over the years, Garbage has remained consistent in its sound, though its career can probably be summed up Version 2.0, the bands' most commercially successful work and arguably its best album to date. All of the album's singles were fantastic-- "Temptation Waits", "I Think I'm Paranoid," "When I Grow Up," "Special," and "Push It." It came out just in time for us millennials to see "growing up" as this abstract concept that would happen millions of years down the line. There's a time and a place for being stable, and it wasn't then, it was a time for turning the tables.
Check out the clips from Big Daddy...who would have thought that Adam Sandler would end up becoming the Jack and Jill guy when this music video came out.
Of course, the band's debut self-titled album was pretty damn good as well. "Only Happy When it Rains" doesn't sound like it was written in the mid-'90s, the song, along with most of Garbage's catalog, still holds up today. Plus, Garbage is edgy. First there was "Queer," and then there was "Androgyny." No wonder Manson is beloved by the gay community. Bleed Like Me was a difficult time for the band. Manson underwent vocal chord surgery and the group cut its tour short to go on an "indefinite hiatus." Vig spent some time working with Manson to produce a solo album that has yet to be released. Garbage released a greatest hits record in 2007 and got back together to work on Not Your Kind of People in 2010.
18 years after Garbage formed, Shirley Manson is still this beautifully pale, fierce redheaded broad who would probably suck your blood if you let your guard down for a second. Hopefully the hiatus was just what the band needed to reignite its spark, and someday we'll see the next White Stripes opening for Garbage once again.