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Customer Review

6 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly disappointing effort, 11 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Beautiful (Audio CD)
Once upon a time there was a band called Curve. They pioneered an exciting style of music, which despite garnering some pretty decent reviews and a semi-cult following never earned them any money. Along came Butch Vig and stole the idea, even going so far as to pluck a female singer from obscurity and get her to front for him.
Thus was born Garbage, who went on to become one of the most successful bands of the mid-late nineties. Curve? Well, they're reduced to releasing music online as they can't get a record deal, presumably still seething that their big idea was so successfully ripped off.
Ah, I'm being a cynic. For all their faults, I loved the first two Garbage albums. Manufactured pop they may be (in fact they certainly ARE), but nevertheless, the catchiness of 'Stupid Girl', 'Queer', 'Special' and 'Push It' meant that I had always considered them a cut above the normal post-punk, poppy MTV drivel. Indeed, I think I must have played their first two albums to death. Which makes the utter tedium of 'Beautifulgarbage' so much more distressing.
Whilst the first two albums were littered with potential singles (you could argue that at least half of the songs on each one could have been released independently), this album has 'Shut Your Mouth' and 'Breaking Up The Girl' as the only songs worthy of a second listen, let alone a single release. It seems that the curse of the 'difficult' third album has struck with a vengeance here.
Seemingly unwilling to stick to the formula which has garnered them so many fans in the past, Butch Vig and co have decided to trample down the too-well-worn path of 'experimenting' on this album. Whilst in the right hands, a change of style can be invigorating, fresh-sounding and exciting, this album just sounds like a band that has spent too long listening to other people's music and neglected their own.
They experiment with scratching (on the dire 'Till The Day I Die'), and instead of sounding like DJ Shadow come across more like Snow. 50's-esque nostalgia is thrown into the mixer with 'Can't Cry these Tears', but unfortunately, instead of sounding like Bjork, Shirley Manson affects a repulsive croon somewhat akin to a female Val Doonican.
There are many more examples of stupid ideas which should have been left on the studio floor, but the monumental folly of the album has to be 'Cherry Lips'. Situated perfectly slap bang in the heart of the album, like a steaming turd left in the middle of the pavement, this song attempts to recapture the 80's pop sensibility of Bananarama or Pepsi and Shirlie. Lets be honest, the eighties was NOT exactly a vintage decade for pop music. Who on Earth wants to remember Banalarama with affection for Christ's sakes!! This song is absolutely hateful.
Its sad, because the two decent tunes mentioned above sound like vintage Garbage. If they had stuck with their tried and tested formula and churned out twelve like that, I'd have loved it. As it is, it remains in my collection only until I can swap it for something else.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Nov 2009 13:42:08 GMT
Trigger says:
I don't agree with this review but voted it helpful as at least it's well-written. Just to play Devil's Advocate, had they stuck with exactly the same grunge-pop-rock sound as their previous two albums they would have been criticised for not trying anything new; you can't please everyone. I do think this is their weakest album but at the same time I still like it quite a lot and I appreciate they were trying something different, even if it didn't especially work (as evidenced in their back-to-basics Bleed Like Me).

Posted on 23 Nov 2014 05:37:25 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Nov 2014 05:53:27 GMT
Pember37 says:
A typical bitter Curve fan claiming Garbage "stole" a catchy-electro rock style from their band, when Garbage drummer & co-producer had been making remixes with bandmate Steve Marker in the same vein and producing bands in a similar vein before Curve began. Also oblivious of the fact that that style was never invented by Curve, Curve pioneered nothing, and too disregarding the fact that Curve was criticized in the beginning for being contrived and manufactured, and for cashing in on a rock scene. Not to mention that Curve experimented with electronic-techo-alternative-pop when Garbage popularized it. They initially produced guitar-driven pseudo-gothic-shoegazey rock. On the other hand, Garbage's debut album was considered by many music writers to be innovative and helped in expanding the sound of alternative music and modern rock and pop in general. Many music writers credited them with building the bridge in mid to late 90s popular music.

Also funny that the Curve fan implicitly calls Garbage's lead singer a mere front person, saying Butch Vig plucked her from obscurity to front his band, when it is common knowledge that a) Steve Marker saw a video of Shirley Manson's band on TV, b) Shirley Manson was not a complete unknown, as she had a decade + of experience in the music biz, toured with various artists including Vic Chestnutt, whom she was friends with, Blondie, and the Ramones, and was signed and mentored by Gary Kurfirst, and c) is lyricist, co-songwriter, co-producer, and the leader of Garbage's image, and too plays keyboards and guitar, not to mention widely noted as a 90s and style icon, which is more than could be said for Curve's lead singer.
Hey genius, "manufactured pop" are acts like Britney Spears, and Backstreet Boys, not a completely-DIY alternative band.
I should also note that Curve's lead singer considered Curve to be a pop band, saying that Curve "put records out and we always thought they were nice little pop albums full of nice little pop songs. I've always thought that Curve have made great pop."

Such pathetic bitterness and resentment. To the person who commented above, a "review" is not good, worthy or valid just because it is "well-written". This is just a resent-driven false diatribe. It certainly is not "helpful" given the level of misinformation present.

Now, onto the subject of this album, Beautiful Garbage. I'm personally not fond of it. But I commend that they didn't play it safe and release a version 3.0 sticking to the same formula that proved successful. This person here however criticizes taking chances and not sticking to a formula (laughably calling experimenting a 'too well known path'), so to each their own.
Also, it's not 'the curse of the difficult third album' that exists, it's the curse of the sophomore slump, the second album, which Garbage evaded.

Some of your sentiments are ironic given that this album, which received generally positive reviews, was described by some critics as generally more consistent, honest, and rawer. E.g. excerpts,
Isthmus review - "it's the band's abandonment of digitally manipulated perfection in favor of rawer guitars and more immediate vocal performances.....far less commercially accommodating than any of the band's previous work. It embraces no particular sound or style. It comes across with ideas and commentary that challenge rather than coerce, and the playing lacks the burnished, artificial quality that's characteristic of so much youth-oriented music these days."

Billboard review - "audiences expecting more of the same (that is, the predecessor, Version 2.0) are in for a wonderful surprise...finds the band eschewing disco-infused electronica foundations for more straight-up rock'n'pop...The anthemic 'Parade' is lyrically deft, questioning all those cookie-cutter wannabes. With the spiky (and transgendered) 'Cherry Lips', replete with 'Chapel of Love'-styled wedding-bell chimes, Garbage has created a storyline for film director Gus Van Sant. Modern tales for modern times, sung by the vocally versatile Manson, make for one of the year's best."

Allmusic - "This is every bit as enticingly postmodern as their other albums, and it sounds distinctly Garbage...they seem less like magpies, more themselves, which means Beautiful Garbage is a more consistent record."

Q Magazine - "Sharp, seductive music from a band at their peak."

Uncut Magazine - "Their most accomplished and convincing album yet."

Plus, what in the world is this? "They experiment with scratching (on the dire 'Till The Day I Die'), and instead of sounding like DJ Shadow come across more like Snow" and "50's-esque nostalgia is thrown into the mixer with 'Can't Cry these Tears', but unfortunately, instead of sounding like Bjork...."
What does Bjork and some DJ Shadow have to do with this, this band, or anything in this album?

"There are many more examples of stupid ideas which should have been left on the studio floor, but the monumental folly of the album has to be 'Cherry Lips'"
Stupid ideas? Really? How infantile. That song is actually one of the praised songs by critics.

"Lets be honest, the eighties was NOT exactly a vintage decade for pop music. Who on Earth wants to remember Banalarama with affection for Christ's sakes!!"
Clueless. The 80s was a watershed era for pop music. You disliking it or not wanting to remember it does not change a fact.

It's clear this person here is not only extremely biased but seriously misguided.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Nov 2014 05:47:50 GMT
Pember37 says:
Trigger - I commented on your comment in my post below, which you may want to check out. Personally, I don't see why you would vote the above post as helpful just because you find it 'well written' since, unless it's completely illegible, the content is what matters.

I agree with your devil's advocate view. They definitely would have been criticized for a lack of ideas and just cashing in on previous success. No, you definitely can't please everyone, never with music.
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