dimanche, avril 10, 2005


Album: Garbage. Bleed Like Me, WARNER BROS

By Andy Gill

Published : 08 April 2005

"It may not last, but we'll have fun till it ends/ C'mon baby, be my bad boyfriend," Shirley Manson sings on "Bad Boyfriend", the opening track of this, Garbage's difficult fourth album. It could serve as a motto for the record as a whole and, indeed, for the band itself, which apparently broke up early on in the recording process, only reuniting when the drummer Butch Vig felt invigorated enough by the material to carry on. One suspects this is crunch time for Garbage, the group's continued existence probably dependent on the performance of Bleed Like Me.

It's just as well, then, that this is a much more assured set than the lacklustre Beautiful Garbage, which also suffered from the deflated interest accorded to most entertainment product unfortunate enough to be released just as the September 11 attacks were taking place. They've clearly spent more time writing decent hooks for tracks like "Bad Boyfriend, "Run Baby Run" and the single "Why Do You Love Me", and they also seem to have acquired a firmer grasp of the imperatives of being a proper rock band, rather than a studio project: the riffs are bigger, brasher and louder than before, with Duke Erikson and Steve Marker's declamatory slashes of guitar surrounding Manson's voice like burly bodyguards muscling their diva through a press of bodies.

For her part, Manson turns on the perverse charm that initially set her apart, playing up to her distinctive, slightly dangerous appeal. "I am not as pretty as those girls in magazines/ I am rotten to the core, if they are to be believed," she sings in "Why Do You Love Me", while elsewhere celebrating a sour cocktail of eating disorders, gender confusion and self-harming in "Bleed Like Me", with its invitation that "You should see my scars". But there's never a murmur of regret, even when resigned to the split covered in "It's All Over But the Crying"; instead, she offers a siren call to pleasurable excess in the New-Wave-y "Why Don't You Come Over", and proclaims a sort of principled promiscuity in "Sex Is Not the Enemy", asserting, "I won't feel dirty, and buy into their misery". As she notes in "Happy Home", "I never once in my sweet life was waiting for desire".

The band's new, streamlined approach involves fewer loops and samples than on previous albums - but, oddly, in places it sounds even more synthetic. It recalls the programmatic heavy-rock style of the Foo Fighters and especially the "robot-rock" mode favoured by Queens of the Stone Age, with the guitar riffs landing like neatly hewn blocks of granite. Compared to the looser, raunchier swagger of earlier rock bands such as the Stones, The Faces, the Pistols and even Led Zep, it seems a touch formal, but there's no denying its concentrated power.

© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.