on 23 March 2005
They might have been away for the last four years, they might have also almost disintigrated in that time as well, but from opener track 'Bad Boyfriend' the flame haired Scottish singer Shirley Manson announces that she and her band are indeed back.
Featuring Foo Fighter mainman/ex Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl on the drums, this track shows just how chameleon like Shirley Manson can be, sounding at times like PJ Harvey. The next two tracks the California sunshine strummer 'Run Baby Run' and steely 'Right Between The Eyes' come at you with wall to wall guitars ~ this is Garbage 2005. Excellent first single 'Why Do You Love Me' hits in just before the bittersweet 'Bleed Like Me' slows down the pace.
Those missing Garbage's previous electronics might find solace in the cold beeps and Marilyn Manson-inspired feedbacks of political rant 'Metal Heart'. The guitars come slashing back to the front in 'Sex Is Not The Enemy' with it's bass-line nicked straight from The Breeders. Garbage have always been as good at doing ballads as the have been doign full out rockers, and on here 'Over But The Crying' proves that. A delicate, piano-led number, Shirley claims she's fed up with forging on with a doomed relationship. And you beleive her.
New wave 80's pop rears it's head on the schizo 'Boys Wanna Fight' while Shirley Manson's desperate lyrics claw for company. 'Why Don't You Come Over' is maybe the album's only real trough, a song that just sounds aneamic compared to the others. Garbage like to finish their records with mid-tempo tunes, and Bleed Like Me is no exception, closing here with 'Happy Home', a bruising yet beautiful song about freedom and future.
The band sound impossibly up-to-date on this record, having dumped the 60's, 70's and 80's sounds of previous records. There's plenty of homages to the mid-nineties music scene that Garbage was born out of, and of course, the dumping of the band's trademark loops, beats and grooves. Instead the band opted to go all-out rock band mode on us, and luckily, it works, making this effort their most consistent work since 1998's 'Version 2.0'. The band sound all the better for it, and this manages to hide the only real criticism of the record - where are the huge pop choruses?
I'd advise people to take a chance with this record, they may just find themselves delighted. A gem of a CD.
on 24 April 2005
Garbage return with their long-awaited fourth studio album, "Bleed Like Me", the follow up to 2001's "Beautiful Garbage", which, despite earning a wealth of critical acclaim, left a lot of fans cold, and hoping for more of what "Garbage" and "Version 2.0" had to offer. This new offering is something different (as ever with a Garbage album). "Bleed Like Me" focuses on crunching guitars and heavy basslines, with the superb "Metal Heart" and "Boys Wanna Fight" being the only tracks that feature the twisted, textured electronics that enhanced 1998's "Version 2.0".
"Bad Boyfriend" is the menacing opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Grinding guitars set around "one of the simplest tunes they've ever done"; as Duke puts it, work well with Shirley's direct lyrics and dirty vocals, reminiscent of the band's 1995 debut. The manic drumming in the middle of the song comes courtesy of Dave Grohl, as everybody knows. A fantastic song and a brilliant, refreshing opener.
"Run Baby Run" starts as a sweet pop song, but turns in to a jilty rocker on the chorus, and takes an unexpected twist at the end, where the track becomes quite jittery. I love the lyrics in the chorus, and this is a possible contender for a single.
"Right Between The Eyes" is apparently about Courtney Love. I love the lyrics in this track especially. Shirley has never cared what anybody thinks, and it shows in the fantastic lyrical content. There is not much of a chorus to the song, but my favourite part is where Shirley sings "there's nothing grander than the big surprise", which, as many have pointed out, is reminiscent of Hole's "Malibu".
"Why Do You Love Me" is by far the rockiest track on the album, closely followed by the grimacing "Bad Boyfriend". It's probably one of the most commercial tracks on the album, along with next single "Sex Is Not The Enemy". The metal-guitar riff still sounds great, and the song is probably the most infectious on the album.
"Bleed Like Me" is the beautiful title track, and is about empathy as Shirley says. Each character has their own scenario, and Shirley's vocals towards the end ("you should see my scars") are some of the best I have ever heard. This is most definitely a highlight. It's mid-tempo, but is one of the most amazing tracks Garbage have ever produced.
"Metal Heart" is currently my favourite on the album. It's quite reminiscent of 1998's "Version 2.0" as the swirling electronics help introduce the song. Just when the song sounds like the poppiest thing here, the razor-sharp, industrial guitars kick in for a blistering guitar ride. I love the cold lyrics. This is Garbage at their best, and could possibly make a single at some point.
"Sex Is Not The Enemy" is already an anthem amongst the Garbage community, with a simple chorus of "a revolution... is the solution". Instrumentally fun, lyrically about Shirley's "sexual politics". This is set to be the second single from the album, and there are also rumours of it being used as the official iPod theme. A great track.
"It's All Over But The Crying" strongly reminds me of "You Look So Fine". The piano riff sounds very similar. I'm not usually in to ballads, but this is a highlight, and could also become a single. Shirley sounds so passionate, yet fed up with everything on the chorus. A lovely piece of drama to help break up the album.
"Boys Wanna Fight" - I really wasn't sure about this song at first, but like the whole album, it's a grower. The combination of the electronics and powerful guitars are similar to that formula that worked so well on "Version 2.0". The band say this is the most political song on the album. Not one of the best, but still a good song.
"Why Don't You Come Over" is generally the track that nobody has taken too. Possibly because of the slightly throwaway chorus of merely "why don't you come over?". I also wasn't sure at first, but this is one of my favourites now. Includes Garbage's trademark angry undertone, complete with bitter lyrics. The chorus is very infectious, and very up-tempo.
"Happy Home" is the perfect closer - cinematic Garbage. The song is about "acceptance" to some degree. The lyrics are wonderful and the song has great meaning. The instrumental chorus accompanied by Shirley's faint backing vocals work perfectly. The song twists at the end with a stunning guitar rising, and hypnotising strings that could only be used to end such a great album.
All in all, a fantastic album from a band who continues to produce quality, distinctive records after 10 years together. Give this album time, it's not Garbage's most accessible work, but it gets better with each listen - a real grower. Personally, I feel this is a vast improvement on "Beautiful Garbage". There is a handful of potential singles including "Run Baby Run" and "It's All Over But The Crying". The band's twisted, individual lyrics remain, and Shirley's vocals are better than ever. They've cranked up the guitars for album number four, but Garbage can still make it work. The best album of 2005.
on 9 January 2006
My wife has recently turned me into a Garbage fan, so I don't have a lot of history with the band. I definitely have liked what I have heard, though, so I checked out Bleed Like Me and it is a fantastic CD. Shirley Manson's vocals are blistering when necessary, soft when appropriate, and sometimes enhanced for greater effect. The distortion given to it in "Why Do You Love Me" when she accuses her lover of sleeping with a friend of hers really adds to the torn feeling she obviously has, being in love with this man yet angry that he's cheating on her.
The CD really rocks, with the occasional rock ballad to give variety. The songs touch on the foibles of relationships as well as society ("Sex is not the Enemy" and "Bleed Like Me" being the most prominent societal comment). "Bleed Like Me" gives us numerous examples of what society would consider deviants (a cutter, a bulimic, a young man confused by not just his orientation but his gender, and a girl suffering from horrible depression) and tells us a little about them, then asking us to understand them ("Try to comprehend that which you'll never comprehend"). It's probably my favourite song on the CD.
Others are equally as good, mostly the ones to do with troubled relationships ("Why Do You Love Me," "It's All Over But the Crying," and "Happy Home" being most effective). I'm not as big a fan of the harder songs, but the up-tempo music grips you and won't let you go and Manson's vocals tear into you. While the music is great, Manson is the main attraction for me. Her voice, which adapts for whatever she needs it to do, is very striking and she demonstrates that beautifully on this CD.
This is a great CD. The earlier review was obviously written by a Garbage fan, and the CD may have been a little too much the same for those of you who have been with Garbage from the beginning. For me, who just knows a periodic song from them but doesn't have a lot of history with the band, it's that much better.
Note: Yes, there are a few strong words here and there, but there aren't strings of them like on some other CDs.
on 12 April 2005
After their hit-and-miss beautifulgarbage album, the band go back to basics and, fortunately, the result is dazzling. Opener 'Bad Boyfriend', a heart-stopping rock 'n' roller, opens the album on a high note. Run Baby Run is one of the album's strongest and one of my faves. Right Between the Eyes continues the thread of the last two tracks. Another great track. Why Do You Love Me. What can you say? Not only is it the reason I got into Garbage but it's just their best effort since any of the singles off of Version 2.0. A great track. Bleed Like Me, one of 3 ballads on the album, takes time and patience to get into, but nobody does tortured like Shirley Manson. Metal Heart is a good track but not as great as the opening 4. Sex is Not the Enemy is lots of fun with its chanty chorus. It's All Over But the Crying, the second of 3 ballads, is easier to like than Bleed Like Me but lyrically, it's not as great as Bleed Like Me. Boys Wanna Fight is another fun track that you can't possibly dislike. Why Don't You Come Over is the only track that on first and last hand I disliked. It's just very banal and unsatisfying. Closer Happy Home, the last of the 3 ballads, outbests the other 2 easily.
Overall, this album is much better than the last. It's more consistent in quality and all in all, more interesting. Although it may not touch the greatness of 'garbage' and 'Version 2.0', it's a great comeback for the band.
How many good tracks? Ten out of 11
Best track: Run Baby Run
Worst track: Why Don't You Come Over
on 19 August 2005
"Bleed Like Me" embodies everything that Garbage does so incomparably well. The band have created an album which is fresh and strikingly different from its predecessors, yet have maintained the traditional elements which have made them so successful and unique. The electronic loops and effects have been sidelined in favour of powerful guitars and thundering drums.. and the result is an intelligent blend of all-out rockers, heart-felt melancholic ballads, and a minute dosage of ingenius techno moments to keep the listener on their toes.
The opening track, Bad Boyfriend is a relentless rollercoaster of merciless drum-pulverising (courtesy of Dave Grohl), and lusty lyrics. Shirley's vocals are as impressive as ever, and she makes the most of her ability to go from a barely-audible, menacing hiss ("I've got something special for my bad boyyyyfriend.."), to an urgent PJ Harvey-esque wail. This track successfully sets the tone for the rest of the album, and proves the band's versatility yet again.
Run Baby Run, is an emotive mix of light, thoughtful verses and a powerful guitar-laden chorus. The lyrics are heart-felt and memorable ("Too late for solutions to solve in the setting sun..") Shirley's cries of "Go on" at the end are a nice touch. A great choice of single.
Right Between The Eyes is a steely number, said to be inspired by Courtney Love. It is an upbeat song of encouragement showcasing Garbage's trademark buzzing guitars, and despite the occasional lyrical cliche ("Life's a bitch and then you die.."), Shirley's closing pleas for the subject to "Stay Alive, my love" are chilling, and the track is a definite grower.
Why Do You Love Me is a punchy, radio-friendly song with a distinctive guitar riff, and a punky chorus that is incredibly catchy. Shirley's lyrics are bitter and filled with confusion, ("I'm standing in the shadows with the words stuck in my throat..") and deliver a quirky twist towards the end of the song, when it transpires that the subject may not actually love her that much after all, ("I think you're sleeping with a friend of mine."). The "I Get Back Up And I Do It Again" mantra is instantly infectious.
The title-track, Bleed Like Me, deals with the theme of self-mutilation, which Shirley has personal experience of. She empathises with a number of troubled characters ("He's trying to figure out if he's a girl, or he's a boy.."), and as the chorus arrives, the quiet strumming of the guitars is replaced by an up-tempo musical outburst of bugles and drums. Shirley's haunting vocals on the line "You should see my scars" are breath-taking, and her pleas for the listener to "Try to comprehend that which you'll never comprehend" are equally beautiful.
Metal Heart.. what can I say? This is officially my favourite track on offer from Bleed Like Me. It balances past styles Garbage have experimented with, with the new raw one, by reviving the electro-rock sound of Version 2.0. Thematically, the song is a lyrically-powerful anti-war anthem. Tribal drums, heavy guitars and electric bagpipes, all contribute to the frenetic chorus. Shirley makes a credible stab at the effect the horrors of war have on an individual ("I wish I wasn't flesh and blood, I would not be scared. Bullets made with me in mind..").
Sex Is Not The Enemy is a ridiculously catchy pop-rock anthem and a perfect choice of second single. The chorus; "A revolution is the solution!!" is guaranteed to replay itself in your head for weeks! Shirley succeeds in conveying her views on sexual politics, in a fun way. A definite highlight.
It's All Over But The Crying is a melancholic break-up ballad with a soft piano intro. Shirley's sense of defeat is evident in both the lyrics and her vocals ("Fade to black, I'm sick of trying.."). The ending confirms and finalises the fact that the relationship is doomed beyond repair ("Oh baby, we're done.."). One of my favourites on the album.
Boys Wanna Fight takes a while to get into. Musically, it's a perfect blend of techno and rock, with a seriously catchy chorus hook. The only problem with the song is the lyrical content: "The boys wanna fight, but the girls are happy to dance all night." This one line prevents the track from being one of my favourites, because it just strikes me as being uncharacteristically weak. Shirley manages to salvage a lot, with her menacing suggestion that everyone should just stop caring. Her cries of "Sick, sick, SICK of doing nothing/saying nothing!" are memorable.
Why Don't You Come Over is the one track on the album that I could regard as a filler. At first I couldn't understand why any of the excellent b-sides, especially "Honey-Bee" or "Never Be Free" were ditched, while WDYCO made the album. However, the track actually proved itself to be a grower. What is at first slightly obnoxious, quickly becomes infectious. I can now see why the band fought to have the track included. Shirley sounds quite Karen O-like at the end, as the song becomes very jittery. The acidic verses throughout are traditional Garbage "You taste like toxic poison, I'll wash my hands of you.."
Happy Home is, as all of Garbage's album closers to-date have been, a really beautiful, poignant ballad. Shirley's lyrics are strikingly honest and emotional, and her vocals are quiet and husky. The verses are accompanied by a soft, strumming guitar, and light drumming. As with Bleed Like Me, the chorus is a sudden crescendo of sound, which eventually leads to a mesmerising closing riff that spans over 2 minutes, without the listener wanting it to end. A flawless closing, for what is overall, a simply fantastic album.
on 4 August 2005
Garbage's last album, Beautiful Garbage, was unfairly overlooked. A fine effort by the band, encompassing some new themes and slick production, the album didn't fair as well as it should have. It would be a crying shame if the same thing happened to Bleed Like Me.
From the moment the first song plays you know you're in Garbage country. The electro-synth sound has been toned down, and the album has a rawer, rockier feel, but it's impossible to mistake the trademark guitar riffs and, of course, Shirley's superb vocal talents. Manson's vocals on the title track shine, and there's a real sense that she's speaking from personal experience. Garbage have clearly tried some different approaches for Bleed like Me, and for the most part, it works beautifully. From the evocative 'It's All Over but the Crying' (which is melodically remisniscent of 'Cup of Coffee' from Beautiful Garbage) to the punchy 'Run Baby Run', the songs deliver. Lyrically, the weakest song is probably 'Happy Home', but the track is rescued by some excellent guitar work and a thumping percussion beat.
Beautiful Garbage was something of a departure for Garbage - it was clear that they were going for a more pop-orientated album while retaining the essence of Garbage. Bleed Like Me is another departure, but in the opposite direction. The album displays a grittier feel, both in terms of the songs and the production, most evident in the track 'Right Between the Eyes'.
All in all, a superb return to form for Garbage. If it takes them four years to produce another gem like this, it'll be well worth the wait.
on 10 May 2005
I don't know about anyone else, but I have a dubious personal relationship with Garbage and their music. Their first album was the first CD I ever bought, what seems like such a long time ago, and was ensnared within moments by the opening riffs of Supervixen with it's disquieting moments of silence. Their second was undeniably as quintessentially different from the first as ice is from fire, because that's what it was - digitally tweaked perfection compared to the raw edges of their first, but still an excellent collection of songs that evoked the time. Following these two, I found myself grossly disappointed by the third (although I must admit that it has grown on me over the last few years, even if I don't listen to it very often).
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I bought this latest effort.
I put it on, and instantly...loved it.
From the very beginning of the first track, there is an undeniable blending of styles from their previous work, but don't let that concern you - it is very different from them all. Certain elements certainly sing clear - from the moody and sometimes anguish-laden guitars, mellowed by the smoke like voice of Manson of Why Do You Love Me - reminiscent of the original Garbage - to the sombre (and I think, moving) It's All Over But The Crying, a sound familiar perhaps from v2.0, this album takes elements of the first three albums and surpasses each of them.
Music should elicit an emotional response, and this, I think, does. OK, so it's a personal opinion, but I defy anyone to listen to this album and not feel something. And even if you don't...well, this CD has something for everyone. From the frenetic guitars to the - well, I want to say 'clever', but that would be to deny the depth of personal feeling that Manson appears to imbue her singing with - lyrics, or the flawless way that they have managed to combine several different styles even within the one album and managed to maintain a resonating unity of flair and elegance. This is a superb album, and I can say nothing more than Buy It.
Oh, and welcome home, Garbage. I'm glad you're back.
on 29 March 2005
After experimenting a bit on their last album with the pop/rock genre last album, which proved their versatility once more, they have responded with their most guitar-crunching album yet. Not one song completely disappoints, and most are so catchy that you will never find yourself tiring of listening to them. If you liked Version 2.0, you will certainly like this album, not because this album mirrors the classic 1998 album, but rather because it features Garbage doing what they do best--creating beautiful melodies with perfectly placed effects and an array guitars that compliment them. You will not find the special effects as rampant on this album as on the past ones, but rather more of an earthy, low-key approach. Favorites include Run Baby Run, Right Between the Eyes, and Happy Home, but all show a creativity that few bands can match. A must-buy.
on 28 June 2005
After a three-and-a-half year hiatus, Garbage have seen fit to descend upon us once again. Hurrah! we cry.
As a fan from day one of the band, it can get a tad frustrating having to endure such long intervals between releases. However, up until now, it has always been worth the wait. Even the much maligned "Beautifulgarbage" was an underrated corker, with some pop gems nestled amongst the uber-produced rockers. Cherry Lips? I mean come on, with the right marketing and proper publicity (which "Beautiful" sadly did not receive) that should have rocketed to the top of our woeful singles chart. But alas, it was not to be.
So Garbage have thought again, and gone completely the other way with the new record. Chainsaw guitars buzzing everywhere. Muzzle that production! Rock it up baby, eh? This is all well and good, and the songs may still be unmistakably Garbage. But the "let's see how many loops, samples and effects we can stuff into this three-and-half-minute rock-pop-goth-techno-God-knows-what-it-is-but-it-sounds-ace" mentality is one of the things that I'm guessing most Garbage fans loved about the band in the first place. I know I did. It's great that I can STILL listen to "Hammering In My Head" eight years after it's release and notice a sound in the background that I've never heard before. It's what made Garbage fab. They were slightly leftfield. It's what gave them their edge over their contemporaries. It's what made the rock purists hate them. It's what made the NME brand them nob-twiddling old men (and Shirley) when V2.0 burst the world's collective eardrum back in 1998. So much the better, if you ask me.
So here I am with "Bleed Like Me" kicking it's way out of my speakers, and don't get me wrong, it's VERY good. Shirley sounds superb (with the possible exception of on "Sex Is Not The Enemy", which is a weaker track all round. Second single? Pah! Have a word with the label suits eh, chaps?). The lyrics are still nicely bitter and twisted, but with an element of progression thanks to some inspired political ranting on one or two tracks. And the choruses of these guitar-pop numbers are still as catchy as ever. Nevertheless, I still long for a bit more. "Run Baby Run" may be a beautiful song, but listen "Vow" or "Push It" immediately afterwards and it appears a bit....dare I say it, bland? Now there's a word I never thought I would associate with Garbage. I know they were going for a more organic, live sound, but that's not what Garbage have ever been about. Except when you go and see them live, of course. And that's the way it should have stayed, in my opinion.
So what we have here is an album that when the production is let loose ("Boys Wanna Fight", "Metal Heart", "Why Don't You Come Over"), or when the wonderful slower numbers air themselves and heavy production would have been moot because Shirley's vocal takes the starring role ("It's All Over But The Crying", "Bleed Like Me") we sniff what a truly great album this could have been. But you can't help but feel slightly disappointed that more wasn't made of the likes "Bad Boyfriend", Run Baby Run" and "Right Between The Eyes". All good songs, yes, but they could be by, well, any number of faceless rock bands out there.
So if you're huge Garbage fan (like me) then you will probably love this album anyway. But you can't help feeling that Garbage's signature, the thing that makes Garbage Garbage, is sadly lacking from about 50% of this album.
Good, but could have been so much better.
It's been four long years since Garbage released "Beautifulgarbage," their oddball blend of pop-rock and electronica. And somehow the energy is still there in their fourth album "Bleed Like Me," an amped up rock album that takes Garbage back to its musical roots.
Not that it came easy -- frontwoman Shirley Manson has talked about how the band barely made it through "Bleed Like Me," because of (what else?) band infighting. Fortunately, they seem to have channeled that energy to their music. It's obvious from the start that their music has gone back to rock, as the combustible riffs of "Bad Boyfriend" erupt around Manson's throaty vocals.
The songs that follow are steady if unsurprising. Garbage's sound feels like the band has worked out their own niche, like a slightly worn slipper. It's loud and rock-y with some catchy rhythms woven in. These are not simple songs, though -- for example, "Who Do You Love Me" is a betrayal/love song, where Manson accuses the lover of sleeping with a pal one moment, then wails, "Why do you love me... it's driving me crazy!"
Garbage dips into sweeping rock melodies, ballads and electronic sputters here and there, and those touches keep the electrorock from ever feeling monotonous. But the amps and roaring guitars rule the music, much as they did in 1998's "Version 2.0." Sometimes those guitars feel like they're soaring to epic heights, but disappointingly they always get reined in at the last minute.
Fortunately, if the music seems restrained, then the singer does not. Shirley Manson hasn't lost her power as a vocalist; even when her vocals are distorted or distant, she is still the center of the music. She wails, she purrs, she yells, she murmurs. And it all works.
Garbage doesn't disappoint in their fourth album, "Bleed Like Me." Perhaps the album's main flaw is that they don't forge any really new turf. But purely as a follow-up, it's a darn good album.