Release Date June 11, 2021
After a career spanning almost three decades, the average artist (particularly in rock music) runs the risk of becoming too comfortable, and thus highly formulaic. That goes double for multi-platinum acts who’ve managed to retain a strong following for their entire career. Thankfully, when it comes to Garbage, this is not the case.
Their latest effort finds the legendary alt rock icons at their most confrontational, attacking all corners of the establishment in a manner that is deeply refreshing, and far too rare in modern music. Sexism, racism, ageism, capitalism, religious anachronism – all are targeted incisively, with vigor and conviction.
These are the grizzled veterans of a vicious industry, their edge only sharpened with time (and the general social turbulence of the last several years), and it’s fantastic to see a total lack of jadednes, both sonically and lyrically, from an act so well established.
The first half of the album in particular is laden with a frenetic energy that matches the tension of the lyrical content, as sacred cows are skewered left and right with appropriate disregard, and some of Shirley Manson’s finest vocal work.
From the jangly, funk tinged opening salvo of ‘The Men Who Rule The World’ to the pulsing straight up rock of ‘Wolves’, all the usual catchiness is on full display, but fraught with an urgency not seen since Version 2.0, all of 24 years ago. But it’s in the slower, darker tracks where the work really shines – the existential melancholy of the title track, the tangible menace of “A Woman Destroyed”.
Multiple tracks flirt with the light industrial flavour of Garbage’s first two albums, but in a manner that feels relevant, and not merely a desperate grab at past glories. This is an album of sounds and subjects rooted firmly in the here and now, employing the full range of tricks learned over a colourful career over a depth and diversity of lyrical content beyond all their previous efforts.
An impressive amount of ground is covered with poise and purpose, before closing in a perhaps unexpected but very fitting manner with the dreamy, noir-esque haze of “This City Will Kill You”. The customary, immaculate production associated with such a polished outfit remains, but there is a drive here not seen from the veteran outfit since at least their 90’s heyday – indeed, with an effort like this, one questions if the real heyday isn’t here and now.