Garbage - Beautiful Garbage 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 02 October 2001

format: CD
label: Interscope Records
release year: 2001
performance: 7
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

The members of Garbage are not nearly as scary as the band's name might suggest. Shirley Manson may talk a big talk, but I'll bet either Chrissie Hynde or Courtney Love could easily kick her ass. But with this said, it's still a treat to hear her give a little bad girl lip on "Beautifulgarbage."

The album opens with a striking aural one-two punch. "Shut Your Mouth" bounces to a funky Bowie-esque guitar romp, beneath potty-mouthed lyrics, before "Androgyny" bops with that stop/start production approach found most recently on Madonna's recent hit "Don't Tell Me." Unfortunately, this song does nothing to explore the consequences of sexual confusion, and instead settles for giving nothing more than a little pat advice: "Don't let a soulmate pass you by."

With producer Butch Vig in the band, you just know you're going to hear a lot of studio experimenting going on in the mix. This is best exemplified by "Cup Of Coffee," which sounds like a beautiful, pseudo-traditional-Chinese ballad in some places, and has what sounds like real Theramin at the beginning. Super headphone stuff.

Manson and friends mostly like to burst in as loud party-crashers with their songs, but after the free beer has lulled them into a little lethargy, they also know how to break off a few quieter moments. "Can't Cry These Tears Anymore" is a big bold Specter-influenced tear-jerking ballad that works. For "Drive You Home," Manson sounds Morrissey-sad on an extra slow waltz, and "So Like A Rose" features Manson turning to a quietly intimate vocal.

Not everything floats here, though, as "Parade" is nothing more than a big bloated moody rocker, and "Untouchable" can't decide if it's an electro-beat tune or a pseudo-Latin offering.

But long after all the posing and posturing, one is left with the lingering impression that Garbage is still a likable group of sweet and tender hooligans.

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