Garbage – Not Your Kind of People

Seven years have passed since Garbage released their last album, Bleed Like Me. During the band’s hiatus the creative bookends of the band kept busy. Butch Vig produced, and Shirley Manson worked on an unreleased solo album while making her professional acting debut. The band came together, booked some studio time and completed their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind of People.

Garbage has always found a way to create songs that balance between glossy pop-electronica and dark alternative. There always seems to be something deeper in their songs that are hidden by a clean and shiny production. Well, the band picks up right where they burned out seven or eights years ago.

The album opens up with “Automatic Systematic Habit,” an upbeat, ready-for-radio song that builds around an obvious New Order bassline. As Manson declares that she wants to be “my dirty little secret,” it strikes me that the opening track sounds a little Miley Cyrus-ish. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think.

Buried within a bunch of pop-friendly tunes is “Not Your Kind of People,” a Beatlesque, Abbey Road era tune that is slow, thoughtful and well crafted that every outsider will find solace in. It’s a song like this that showcases Garbage’s ability and talent as a group. Simply put, it’s a beautiful track that will probably get lost in the ubiquitous, Adderall fueled pop noise that dominates the rest of the album. To be musically relevant and convincing, Garbage should build upon the title track and move away from their soundtrack heavy sound.

“I Hate Love” revisits the stereotypical Garbage sound that consists of a determined and enchanted Manson vocal carefully layered over a warm and driving melody made for dancing. It’s the blueprint for most every Garbage song ever released.

“Battle in Me” swims in familiarity and mediocrity. Manson’s lyrics, sung over stadium-sized sounds, are as forgettable as they are stale. “Get out of my face / Before I lose my patience.” I’m shaking. I get the feeling that Manson’s notebook is full of empty words and rehashed clichés that she tries to breathe life into with her energetic voice and her red painted lips.

The album ends with “Beloved Freak,” a retrospective singsong that seems out of place and derived. It’s b-side quality at best and should’ve been left off of the album. Dare I say that it is an anti-climatic way to end such an anticipated release? And would it hurt to spend a little more time on the album art?

If you’re a fan of Garbage, I’m sure you will not be disappointed with the band’s long awaited release. But, if you’re a casual Garbage listener, or if you’re new to their sound, you might see more flaws than sparkles. At this point, it’s best to purchase the title track and revisit or discover some of the band’s previous releases.

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May 15, 2012. Albums.

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