Shirley Manson and the guys (Well, the illustrious Butch Vig, and Duke Erikson and Steve Marker) have rebooted after a 7-year break with Not Your Kind Of People. Released in May on their own record label STUNVOLUME, it plays like ‘Garbage Version 3.0’ with songs that recall, but still hold their own against, the band’s self-titled debut and sophomore album Version 2.0.
All of the pop-coated rock that was immediately catchy, aggressive, melodic, seductive, melancholic, and driven from those two albums can be found here – from the ramped up, unrelenting beats to the bright electronics and propulsive guitar lines, to Shirley’s changeable, ever-engaging vocals. Shirley’s Scottish origin shows in her distinctive, rich butterscotch intonation that can slip ‘n’ slide like quicksilver from luxuriously menacing to bristling with defiance to velvety despondency.
A briskly thumping, club-like beat and deeply driving guitars press “Automatic Systematic Habit” ever forward as Shirley makes a stand by sleekly declaring “I won’t be your dirty little secret.” Lead single “Blood For Poppies” staunches the sonic flow with staccato beats and vocals, while “Control” is flooded with a woozy chorus and Shirley admitting that “I’ve lost control / I let my guard down.” The title song is an unhurried number with watery, manipulated vocals, Western reverb guitar strokes, and a multitude of voices on the chorus singing by the end that “We are extraordinary people.”
Garbage mixes it up again for the swooning dancefloor tune “I Hate Love” which sweeps by on a fleet tempo, hard, chiming guitars, sporadic symphonic strings, and the bleak lyrics “Love promises nothing / and then your love dies.” sung by Shirley in a dreamily breathy tone. In the most obvious nod to the band’s past, “Sugar” pays homage to “Milk” with its slower pace, backdrop of strings, brushed cymbals, piano notes, and Shirley’s softly despondent vocals that deepen as she laments “Won’t someone love me…”
Garbage tacks on a couple of strong rockers near the end of the album. “Battle in Me” features a machine-like blast of marching beat, searing guitar lines, and Shirley sing-talking with an attitude to match the instrumentation. “Man on a Wire” takes it even further with a defiantly triumphant Shirley blazing on the chorus, exclaiming the killer line “I sat myself down / and shot my fear in the face…” amid a prominent drum beat and distorted guitar fireworks. The album closes with the lyrically-uplifting ballad “Beloved Freak” with Shirley gently singing “So here you stand beloved freak / You’re not alone.”
The Deluxe Edition of this album is essential for the Garbage fan as it includes the awesome song “The One”, which should have made the original album’s final cut. All pistons are firing on “The One” and it delivers a headlong, exhilarating rush of relentlessly buzzing beats and electronics, sharply slicing guitars, and an escalating pace that has Shirley spitting out her words so fast that she almost loses her breath. In a sly wink to her role as a Terminator in the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Shirley adopts a robotic intonation on the chorus, desperately demanding “There must be someone / a robot / a Terminator… / You might be the one for me.”