Garbage - Absolute Garbage
Shirley Manson was for many, the Karen-O of the mid-to-late nineties and beyond, her provocative and unpredictable nature made her captivating and intriguing in equal doses. This nostalgic and well put-together compilation contains material spanning Garbage’s colourful career, turning into a celebration of their uncompromising approach. Fitting opener ‘Vow’, from their self-titled debut album of 1994, is an apt reminder of the playful but destructive streak that has littered Garbage’s past. ‘I’m Only Happy When It Rains’, encapsulates neatly the catchy pop and light Goth crossover that many people fell in love with over the years and, Manson comes across as cocky, stern and flighty. Story of her life, eh? This album turns into a stark reminder of the potency of the band and the lurid anthem of ‘Stupid Girl’, is a case in point. This reminder is something that is sorely needed by many fans in the UK, as the outfit pulled out of a much anticipated tour last year.
It is a release like this that shows up the variety that Garbage has proffered over the years, contrasting with the one dimensional tag that has oft been slapped on their backs. The slow bass induced and brooding ‘#I Crush’ from 1996, shows up their eerie darkness and Manson’s vocals slow down to haunting levels, something must have provided inspiration for the likes of PJ Harvey and Bjork. Garbage was never a one person group, the winding and drawn out accompaniments that are the combined efforts of Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig ties the songs together. Drawing attention to this fact is the compact and slightly atmospheric ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’. The Metallica riffs inclusive ‘Why Do You Love Me’, incorporates a hot and cold vocal drag. Showing the heavier, mosh inducing side of Garbage that used to annoy the hell out of the purists.
For those who fear that a Best Of offering often signals the end of the band as they know them, new song ‘Tell Me Where It Hurts’, retains that slow-building and captivating climb to a tension releasing and tempo rising chorus. Whereby Manson embraces her pop-friendly side and so do her colleagues. It is a searching snippet, showing that this quartet’s mystique has not yet been lost. That alone, if nothing else makes this release worthwhile.