Review: Garbage – Not Your Kind of People
Published on May 15th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Shirley Manson and co’s previous studio album Bleed Like Me, released some seven years ago, was a downright decent collection of lasciviously melodic trash-pop that successfully married their squalid instincts with a chart-friendly sheen. This apparent bid for more widespread acceptance naturally did not sit well with some, and those people are advised to approach Not Your Kind of People with a big old bowlful of caution.
There is an inescapable sense that Garbage have pushed it (pun intended) too far into the realms of pop with this one. Opening duo “Automatic Systematic Habit” and “Big Bright World” are almost jarringly ready-for-radio, with the latter somehow contriving to sound a bit like a cross between The Stone Roses and Katy Perry. Are those two even allowed in a sentence together? Apologies if not.
While this may not be the Garbage we knew, there’s just about enough swirling around in the mix to rein these songs in from ‘vapid’ territory, and they’re certainly not wanting for energy. The huge, filthy guitar riff of “Blood For Poppies” is more reconcilable with the Garbage of their first two albums, although the ensuing, vaguely hip-hop skank does lead into another gleaming, polished chorus. Some will love it, some will be left feeling a little dirty by how clean it is, as it were.
“Control” is more like it, riding a Secret Machines-like verse into a more cannily atonal chorus and building into quite the rumble, while the stately title track, early Garbage throwback “I Hate Love” and splendorous chorus breakdown of “Sugar” shunt Not Your Kind of People back on the right track in time for stunning lead single “Battle in Me”.
“I have all of my wits around me / And I’ll be damned if I’m done” sings Manson here, one of the more pointed statements on album’s worth of lyrics that are decent enough not to ruin anything but rarely strong enough to enhance it either. Nevertheless, its gurgling synths and thrillingly punctuated chorus mark “Battle in Me” as an instant Garbage classic, and one in which drummer Butch Vig’s influence would appear to be paramount.
Penultimate track “Man on a Wire” is actually a bit of a monster, monumentally stomping and an ideal segue into floaty, friendly closer “Beloved Freak”, the closest this album comes to a ballad by some distance. In the end, then, there’s more good than bad on this album, but it’s hard to avoid the notion that some of its more sweet-toothed moments owe their presence more to musical SEO rather than any attempt at subversiveness.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!