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Garbage - Strange Little Birds (Album Review)

Thursday, 16 June 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

Fresh from revisiting their self-titled debut on their 20 Years Queer tour, Garbage have returned with their sixth studio record, ‘Strange Little Birds’.

Their first release since 2012’s ‘Not Your Kind of People’ finds the band pushing for a more stripped back, spontaneous approach. Straight up rock has been thrown aside in favour of a minimalist core as they experiment, resulting in an exciting mix of styles occasionally peppered with classic Garbage cuts.

After an intro of eerie atmospherics, Sometimes veers off into moody electronica reminiscent of Depeche Mode, with Shirley Manson's lyrics telling a dark tale and setting the scene for a brutally honest album that touches on beatings, insecurity and personal demons.

Similarly sparse, the excellent Even Though Our Love Is Doomed is a brooding mini masterpiece that slowly builds to a massive climax. The slow, chilled out If I Lost You, meanwhile, utilises Portishead electronics and a floating chorus to create something completely unexpected.

There are still plenty of familiar Garbage moments here, though. Night Drive Loneliness rivals the band’s James Bond theme, for The World Is Not Enough, for cinematic, mysterious atmospherics, while the more upbeat We Never Tell gets closest to something that might have found a home on their sophomore effort, ‘Version 2.0’.

Pick of the bunch, though, is the superb Blackout. Its six and a half minutes move from atmospheric electronica through verses that sound like a long lost classic by the Cure before ending up at a suitably dramatic chorus. Over 20 years into their career, Garbage have somehow conjured up a special album that nears their very best. Remaining fresh, vibrant and thrilling, they are indeed anything but what their name suggests.


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