Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Absolute Garbage, #15 - 11

#20 - 16

#15. Androgyny
Album: BeautifulGarbage (2001)

Behind closed doors and under stars,
It doesn't matter where you are...

‘Androgyny’ wasn’t a challenge. It didn’t push any boundaries, it didn’t change any perceptions, it didn’t take Garbage in any new direction. What it was? It was Garbage at their pop finest, just a great little song, Garbage enough to sound familiar but light enough to dance to and a cute little chorus everyone could sing along to after one listen. “Boys in the girls room, girls in the mens room, you free your mind in your androgyny”. Easy. This wasn’t a song that was received well by some, many critics complaining it was more commercial than their previous work, but I can’t always understand why that’s a bad thing. The boy/girl/boy/girl/question mark lyrics follow a similar theme to many of the tracks of BeautifulGarbage, the clip simple, Shirley looking as hot as ever with her almost ‘80’s girl/boy thing going on; Butch, Duke and Steve looking hilarious, stone faced while Shirley shines, as usual. They know how this band works and they play their roles so well. If this is Garbage at their lightest, their least challenging, then this is an indication of how incredible the rest of their catalogue is, which, in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, is beyond amazing. (Jo Michelmore)

#14. The World Is Not Enough
Album: The World Is Not Enough OST (1999)

People like us, no how to survive,
There's no point in living, if you can't feel the life...

I’m going to be honest here; I’ve never seen a James Bond film in my life. None of them. I don’t know a lot about them. Something I do know about are the soundtracks. Some incredibly famous and great songs have featured in Bond films and some huge name acts have sung Bond themes; we’re talking more recently Madonna, Alicia Keys, Jack White, and the super famous from back in the day, people like Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones. The greatest Bond themes all have a certain sound, something about them screams “Bond” and this one from Garbage can be included in that awesome list. Written by David Arnold, who also wrote the score for the film ‘The World Is Not Enough’ and lyricist Don Black; Garbage somehow managed to make this track sound unmistakably Bond while still sounding unmistakably Garbage. Beginning with a beautiful, dramatic string arrangement, then stripped back for Shirley’s first line “I know how to hurt, I know how to heal”, the song takes you on a journey of what I imagine a good Bond film should be, with enough light and dark to keep you interested all the way through. The combination of orchestral strings with the typical Garbage synth and guitar work surprisingly well together, classic yet completely modern without sounding dated or tacky. About three quarters through is where this song really shines, the dramatic repeat of the chorus line “the world is not enough” taking the song to its climax. Garbage took a gamble with this one, a Bond theme could have been a career maker or breaker. Thankfully, their talent shone through, they joined the ranks of the music immortals and took their credibility to a whole new level. (Jo Michelmore)

#13. Why Do You Love Me?
Album: Bleed Like Me (2005)

Does it really come as a surprise when I tell you I don't feel good?

Right at the start of this song, you know it’s going to be good and Garbage good is really good. Harsh, loud guitar riffs lead into Shirley’s voice demanding attention; “I’m no Barbie doll, I’m not your baby girl”, it’s the strong, sexy Shirley I know and love, who is totally ok with who she is and where she’s been. “I’ve done ugly things I have made mistakes and I am not as pretty as those girls in magazines”, she sings it with such confidence, so self-assured and matter of fact, the pace is quick, almost frantic. It’s when the chorus kicks in that things get really interesting, the lyrics a little psychotic with her incredible voice sounding almost desperate, repeating “why do you love me?” over and over again. It’s the reality of this that I adore, the mood swing of complete confidence to absolute panic is completely relatable (and probably something I shouldn’t relate so well to, then admit in a public forum on the internet!?!) but I guess that’s what makes a song a favourite to someone and therefore this one to me. At the bridge everything is stripped back, the vocal almost a whisper until we’re slammed back into reality with those guitars and drums again, heated and intense. With the same riff as the introduction, it ends as quickly as it started, the perfect ending to such an emotionally confused 3 minutes and 50 seconds, the sudden end matches the rest exactly and is one of the best parts of the track. This is a song that I have related to in so many ways, so many different times and I’m sure I will for a long time to come. For me, it’s Garbage at some of their best. (Jo Michelmore)

#12. Queer
Album: Garbage (1995)

I know what's good for you, I know you're dying to,
I know what's good for you, I bet you're dying to.
You can touch me if you want...

"Hey boy take a look at me, let me dirty up your mind." Sex... I mean, hi... I mean... Shirley Manson, sex-bomb. 'Bad Boyfriend' featured some very steamy vocals, but 'Queer' Shirley? She was pure, unadalterated sex. All I'm saying is, if I turned around and Shirley Manson was standing there, eyes-a-smokey, singing this song, beckoning me into her mansion, pushing me around, ripping my clothes off, going all sadomasochist on me, shaving my head and giving me a hare krishna/alien makeover... I'd be all for it. Who wouldn't? Afterall, she knows what's good for you. (Matt Bond)

#11. You Look So Fine
Album: Version 2.0 (1998)

You look so fine, I want to break your heart,
And give you mine, you're taking me over.

Let's start at the end. The final verse of 'You Look So Fine' transforms the beauty of an entire song into something so much darker. It's an ending in every sense of the word; the end of the song, the end of a relationship, the end of a fantasy. Well, the final line leaves that last one a little ambiguous, yet I'm of the opinion that the next morning there'll be nothing left to fantasise about. The entire closing segment is one of Garbage's greatest lyrical contributions to music; "Drown in me one more time, hide inside me tonight, do what you want to do, just pretend happy end, let me know, let it show, ending with letting go." The repeated lines of, "ending with letting go," and subsequently, "let's pretend happy end," strike a chord with one's soul and have become my favourite ending to any Garbage song. When you view the beginning and middle of 'You Look So Fine' in the context of hearing its final passages, Shirley Manson suddenly becomes so much more relatable. Don't get me wrong, it's not like she had shied away from expressing herself oh-so-eloquently before this, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone that doesn't listen to the story in 'You Look So Fine' and goes, "that sucks. I completely understand." Loving someone from afar and there's nothing you can do about it. It's all so Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac. And I love it. (Matt Bond)

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