|Garbage - Bleed Like Me|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 12 April 2005|
It’s too bad that Garbage aren’t as big as they should be, because they tend to put out a decent and consistent product, as opposed to so many groups who really are absolutely talentless and still manage to sell discs and concert tickets like they’re the next coming of Abba. Garbage’s latest release, Bleed Like Me, is a particularly strong offering, combining that distinctive Garbage sound with a still often irreverent attitude and a more mature, moody aspect. Amazing lead vocalist Shirley Manson fronts the now decade-old group (has it been that long?), along with the talented Steve Marker, Butch Vig and Duke Erikson.
“Bad Boyfriend” starts things off with what is essentially straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, with some fun lyrics: “I wanna hear you call out my name/I wanna see you burn up in flames/Keep you on ice so I can show all my friends/C’mon baby be my bad boyfriend.” There are few things better than watching Shirley Manson on stage singing this type of number. She has the ability to project this amazing attitude that always seems to perfectly capture whatever the song is about, whether she’s live or recorded. “Why Do You Love Me” flashes an old school rock riff here and there before switching into that easily recognizable Garbage sound. This is the first single released from the album, and while the verses are much better than the choruses, it seems to be the single because the public will recognize it as a Garbage song.
“Run Baby Run” is another very Garbage-sounding track (though a feeling of artistic maturity swims within it), with overlapping, humming guitars and a distinctive, high-pitched twang. Manson’s vocals meld perfectly with the music, upbeat yet plaintive. Manson can sound irreverent without sounding like she’s either overdoing or forcing it. Her voice naturally lends itself to a variety of sounds, which is part of what makes her such a great vocalist. She can sound sweet, sexy and pissed off within a few notes, but none of it sounds forced, acted or strained, unlike a bevy of other current and past male and female singers. No wonder one of my best friends is in love with her. With her voice, that is.
The title track is a mostly acoustic, dark, folksy ballad that expands its electronic accompaniment slowly as the song progresses. This is a great track that picks up the pace more and more while never getting away from its foundation tone, always giving proper attention to both the solid lead and beautiful backing vocals. “Metal Heart” is upbeat as well, with lots of counterpunching peaks and valleys. It begins very quietly before turning up the volume, then gets quiet again before getting even louder. The subtleties they employ in the shifts are really something to notice. It shows not only good engineering and mixing, but good production sense and knowledge of what will sound good. Considering that Garbage produced the album themselves, it indicates their comfort level with their own musical style and an understanding of how to make that style come across in the best way possible.
“Right Between the Eyes,” “Sex is Not the Enemy” and “Why Don’t You Come Over” are all pretty much in the same vein – upbeat, driving rock songs – but Manson’s vocals absolutely make “It’s All Over But the Crying.” The music is played so well and at such a tamped-down level that it really brings out the subtleties in the vocals. Endings are always difficult, but “Happy Home” is the perfect type of song to end an album. Fans of Garbage will be pleased by Bleed Like Me, and others should be pleasantly surprised if they’ve never given them a good listen.