Garbage – Not Your Kind Of People

Shirley Manson and co return after a six year hiatus – but was it worth the wait?

Released: 14/05/2012 on STUNVOLUME

It’s probably fair to say that one of my all-time female icons is Shirley Manson. From the moment I heard her sulky, goth-pop dulcet tones growling out ‘Stupid Girl’ way back in 1996, my 15 year old angst-ridden self was hooked on the woman that seemed to embody everything I wanted to be. Fronting the male band formed by Nirvana producer Butch Vig made her even more inspirational as the band flourished and developed over the years.

Garbage have only made four studio albums prior to this and in my opinion, are one of the most underrated grunge bands around, due to their often being dismissed as Butch Vig’s playthings. So hearing of their new album, two years in the making, I pre-ordered the CD (yes – CD! They’ve made me right nostalgic to the ‘90s), and waited anxiously for it to drop.

Not Your Kind Of People has focused on two consistent elements - heavy rock electric guitar riffs and Manson’s gravelly voice. These are then spun around industrial bass lines and electronica (‘Battle in Me’) and some more delicate pop synth tunes (‘Not Your Kind of People’). The record is passionate and angry, full of raw emotion and is unmistakably Garbage.

Some aspects of the album are incredibly exciting – it’s clear the band was working through certain issues on some of the songs and has taken advantage of doing this collectively. With all four members being so close, musically it is awe inspiring. However, the better elements of the album don’t even quite extend to full tracks, and instead are in snippet form hidden within the music like Easter Eggs – such as Manson crooning an exert from ‘This Little Light of Mine’ at the end of the distinctly average ‘Beloved Freak’, and the familiar guitar riffs that dominate each track, but are often then replaced by experimental synths.

Nonetheless, some of the tracks just seem to be connecting the dots. Is it a mark of a good song or a terrible song that you can sing along with the words the first time you hear it? Does it make it uniquely perceptive or incredibly predictable? Whatever the case, I did this with ‘Blood For Poppies’ as soon as it came on, and to this minute I am unsure if I love or hate it. The album also slightly suffers from a sense of overproduction at times, and if it wasn’t for the little nuggets of raw genius scattered throughout, I would also be toying with the thought that this is a bit of a Vig vanity project.

The album as a whole is predictable and safe. Not bad, or simple, just not spectacular. It just doesn’t quite deliver on what I would expect from Garbage. Whilst the lyrics are still as dark as ever (my favourite being the desperately isolating verses of ‘Sugar’), I nevertheless feel that they will never recapture the brilliance of their first two albums. Garbage made a generation of sad, lonely and desperately shy teenage girls feel like they could conquer the world – and if they failed, that they would drag the world down with them. I can confidently say there is no such track on this album.

Not Your Kind Of People is no game changer. But it is a slick record full of passionate, full pelt rock guitar tracks and dirty synthesised electronica which will appeal to both new fans and older ones alike. And whilst I am unlikely to put this in my top 100 of all time, it has rekindled my love for Manson, and I will be re-purchasing their back catalogue accordingly.

Bugger the CDs, though.

Turn On: Not Your Kind Of People, Man On A Wire

Turn Off: Felt, Blood For Poppies.

UnderSong Rating
5/10 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆