Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Absolute Garbage, #20 - 16




After an incredibly long hiatus, Garbage are finally ready to release their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind of People, on May 14. One of the most successful alternative bands of the 90s, Garbage was led by Grammy award winning producer Butch Vig (Nirvana - Nevermind), former Spooner guitarist Duke Erikson and producer guitarist Steve Marker. The quartet was completed with the addition of Scottish vocalist, Shirley Manson, who attracted their attention as the front for the underground success, Angelfish. Together, they released two of the greatest albums of the 1990s, even earning an Album of the Year nomination in 1999 for Version 2.0. To celebrate their return, we're counting down our twenty favourite Garbage tracks. Make sure you let us know which of their songs are your favourites too!


#20. Bad Boyfriend
Album: Bleed Like Me (2005)




I wanna hear you call up my name,
I wanna see you burn up in flames...


Shirley Manson knows what she wants in a man. Undeniably sexy, the opening track to Garbage's last LP was raw, loud and a huge departure from the more commercial sound on BeautifulGarbage. Bringing in Dave Grohl for drums took the song from great to unbelievably awesome as he worked in tandem with Steve Marker and Duke Erikson's guitar lines to create what was, at the time, Garbage's heaviest sound. As you'll probably read about another nineteen times before this countdown is over, Manson delivers a show stealing performance with her vocal delivery. From her opening lines she reclaims a lot of the edge that I felt was lacking on most of BeautifulGarbage. She reclaims it spectacularly and never looks back. "If you can't love me honey, Go on just pretend, come on baby be my bad boyfriend." Where can I sign up? (Matt Bond)


#19. Medication
Album: Version 2.0 (1998)




I don't need an education,
I learnt all I need from you...


This is not the Garbage that immediately comes to mind when thoughts of Garbage enter my mind, but it’s Garbage I really, really love. The fourth track on Version 2.0, it sits so beautifully on the album between two of my all time favourite Garbage songs, from the sudden stop of ‘When I Grow Up’, the soft start to this song takes you on a whole different emotional journey to the previous track, then a little over four minutes later, a soft finish to ‘Medication’ and you’re suddenly jolted back into the harshness and anger of ‘Special’; this is how albums should sound when played in full. Vulnerable and exposed, Shirley’s vocal is the star of the track, sometimes showing off her higher vocal range, she sounds strong and clear, the lyrics unguarded and raw; “…somebody get me out of here, I’m tearing at myself, nobody gives a damn about me or anybody else…”. If you ever find the opportunity to hear this song played acoustically, stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate, it’s amazing. Actually, whenever you hear any version of this song you should stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate, it's amazing. Then go and listen to another Garbage song, they’re all quite good. Very good. Go and listen to one now. Quickly. Go. You won’t regret it. (Jo Michelmore)


#18. A Stroke of Luck
Album: Garbage (1995)




I lose what I love most,
Did you know I was lost until you found me?


There's a certain ambiance within 'A Stroke of Luck' that made me fall in love with it from the moment the track begins. With the way the music has been composed and with the lyrical focus throughout on 'falling,' I generally associate the opening with a wide array of falling scenarios; rain, snow and the obvious one - the individual falling down, about to hit rock bottom. Just before any sort of smashing into the ground can occur and by some stroke of luck (see what I did there), they're caught and Shirley Manson's vocal line begins. "Hanging by threads of palest silver, I could have stayed that way forever." Metaphorically falling, only to be saved by a new love... a hope for the future. What's keeping her together doesn't hold, Manson loses her love and once again spirals down and even further down. "Here comes the cold again, I feel it closing in, It's falling down and all around me falling." 'A Stroke of Luck' is tragic, haunting and full of despair. Most of all, it's a brilliant piece of songwriting. Is it really better to have loved and lost, or to have never loved at all? For those of us that want to believe in the former, the words in this song are sure to place some doubt in your mind. (Matt Bond)


#17. Blood for Poppies
Album: Not Your Kind of People (2012)




I don't know why they are calling on the radio,
They know I'm here just out of sight.


The fact that this song made it onto a top 20 Garbage songs list when the song was released less than a month ago is a testament to how awesome this songs is. When I first heard it, I loved it, I reeeeeally loved it but I had to stop and ask myself; did I love this because I’d been waiting so long for a new Garbage song or did I genuinely love it? A little self-analysis, a few (hundred) listens later and nope, I loved this song because it’s a great song. The harsh guitar intro leading into the catchy verse, then the pop driven singalong chorus; is there anything not to love about this track? Just when I think it can’t get better, everything is stripped back for the bridge and then bam, straight back into the catchy, catchy chorus again. The beautiful clip pays reference to the Man Ray and Dali types of the surrealist movement, it’s a little messy and a little perfect, exactly what Garbage is and should be. If the rest of the new album 'Not Your Kind Of People' is this good, I don’t think I'll cope. Someone pass me a paper bag, I’m starting to hyperventilate. (Jo Michelmore)


#16. The Trick Is To Keep Breathing
Album: Version 2.0 (1998)




I won't be the one who's going to let you down,
Maybe you'll get what you want this time around...
The trick is to keep breathing.


In some bizarre way, 'The Trick Is To Keep Breathing' is a motivational song. You wouldn't think so, you know, with the whole depressing tone it has going on. Much the same as 'A Stroke of Luck,' this is a ballad, not necessarily one revolving around being in love, that tells the tale of a girl who's completely down on life. It could be biographical to Shirley Manson, it could be about someone she knew, it could be about someone you as the listener know. "She's not the kind of girl, who likes to tell the world, about the way she feels about herself." I'm sure there's many of you who can relate the lyrics in 'The Trick Is To Keep Breathing' to one or more of your friends who's been through a similar situation. What I believe makes this song better than 'A Stroke of Luck' is the redemptive passage that closes the song. This isn't a ballad about being in love, but there is a message of love in the song. To me, this is a song about friendship. It's about being there for someone, helping them pick themselves up and reminding them that life goes on. Closing the song with Shirley slowly breathing in and out was sheer brilliance and still leaves me catching my breath today. (Matt Bond)  


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