Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Garbage - Version 2.0


Shirley Manson's sadly exctinct S&M robo-sex vocal, until it returns, was a dry postpunk barbed wire neatly treated to properly techotronic pop overlays via Butch Vig and co, who altogether formed Garbage. I'm talking Garbage Version 2.0 here - a unique phase wherein we get 12 songs all scanned for traces of life but they'll still have sex with it anyway. Shirley's sado/maso phrases didn't have to always be smart as well ('I fall down just to give you a thrill, prop me up with another pill' plays dead on the album's best single I Think I'm Paranoid), but it would work well if they were. There's not much nostalgia either - even the beautiful moments feel like slowmotion pornography, albeit with aliens. With no need to cheer up, Hammering In My Head gives you body burns, Push It anihilates you, anchored by Manson's glum dominatrix hosting duties, your free pass is at your own peril. Synthesizers? Probably - 12 years later I am still identifying new sounds and voltages. You'll have fun with this album - the jangly H-bomb dropper Special tosses a lover off, off a plane that is - 'do you have an opinion' isn't even a threat, there's real venting intention in her voice that suggests her mind's already made up. The full-speed abstraction of Temptation Waits smoothes the edges, the singer having evolved into simulating motions whether they are human or not. Even if her often clumsy lyrics aren't always arresting, the production always turns it into an incident with scathing observations. The dreamlike ballads The Trick Is To Keep Breathing and You Look So Fine, or the lapsing withdrawl 'co-dependent' cold-turkey middle-8 on Medication are incredibly lonely and insatiable, with the odd phoney stuff about 'if we sleep together will you like me better' as if we believe by now that she doesn't know any better herself. Blondie, The Pretenders and Siouxsie & The Banshees are the obvious idols being ripped off, but this music is rendered by such exceedingly skillfull deployment their eurodisco post-punk butcherings are hyperaware and they make it their own design. Shirley craves yet more skin on Sleep Together, which is the most blatant attempt to cultivate the persona and a bit of a placebo if I'm honest. We know she doesn't play the 'stupid girl' but mutates her weaknesses on the play-loud Dumb and Wicked Ways, pumping her bad behaviour in suitably grotesque salivation. Cashing in on self-dramatizing teenagers, When I Grow Up sounds like an actual-hit, cheerfully going on about 'golden showers' as you do.

2 comments:

Mike said...

One of my favourite albums. I listened to this on repeat for months when it was released. The band really dropped their bundle after this though....

undisco_me said...

I still can't believe how much I don't like album number 3. A lot of alternative bands peaked in 1998 strangely.