On their first album in seven years, Garbage
don’t sound rusty at all. If anything, Not Your Kind of People
is a more mature, confident version of the electronic-influenced alt-rock of their mid-to-late-‘90s prime. Now in her 40s, lead singer Shirley Manson remains as feisty and alluring as ever, abandoning some of the vixen posturing of her earlier years for a stronger persona that tackles failed relationships and loneliness with real grit. Catchy at every turn and mostly able to refresh a dated sound, Not Your Kind of People
is a strong comeback album from a group who hopefully have more records in them.
A '90s Band Back for More
When Garbage put out their self-titled debut in 1995, their chief selling point was that one of their members was Butch Vig, the producer behind hit albums for Nirvana
and Smashing Pumpkins
. But while Garbage definitely belonged in the alt-rock category with those other bands, they sounded much different, fusing element of dance and industrial into a mainstream aesthetic. Manson’s sexy, dangerous vocals helped add spice, and a collection of memorable hits made them platinum stars. But by the turn of the century, they ran out of gas and eventually disbanded. Their recent decision to reunite
brought with it questions of whether this quartet had much new to offer. Happily, Not Your Kind of People
proves such doubters wrong. Though very much out of step with contemporary rock styles, Garbage find a freshness in their approach that makes an old sound seem new again.
A Comfort to the Listener
Except on the chip-on-its-shoulder antagonism of “Man on a Wire,” Not Your Kind of People doesn’t contain many moments in which the band explicitly acknowledge their long absence. But at the same time, there’s an unmistakable sense in Manson’s lyrics of trying to find things that have lasting value, suggesting that age has brought with it perspective. Whether it’s the contentment of love in “Big Bright World” or an ode to a fellow outsider in “Beloved Freak,” the album serves as a comfort to the listener. This comes through most clearly on the title track, where Manson pits the band (and their fans) against the conformity of modern life, striking a blow for individuality. It’s the most overt declaration on the album that Garbage are very happily going to do their own thing, which isn’t all that different than how they operated in their heyday.
Tunes That Wow the Ears
Of course, thematic concerns aren’t what jump out first on most albums: The tunes are what matter. Not Your Kind of People has plenty of great ones, such as the crunchy pop-rock of “Felt” or the sensual electronic ballad “Sugar.” On the latter track, Manson in some ways updates the seductive come-hither of the band’s 1996 hit “#1 Single.” “Sugar” isn’t as slinky, but its velvety desire wraps around the ear just as compellingly. The more up-tempo “I Hate Love” has an almost New Wave feel to it, as Manson tries to untangle herself from a complicated love affair, while “Control” rocks an impressive harmonica hook. Interestingly, one of the album’s least-arresting tracks is the lead single, “Blood for Poppies,” which almost feels a little too calculated for radio play to really dazzle. But throughout much of Not Your Kind of People, it’s almost nonstop ear candy.
'Not Your Kind of People' - Bottom Line
Not Your Kind of People
is a moodier affair than Garbage
or Version 2.0
and, despite its ready hooks, not quite as instantly engaging either. But patience reveals a pretty striking collection of top-flight modern rock songs. In the last few years, several ‘90s bands have reunited, to varying degrees of success, but Not Your Kind of People
is one of the highlights of this current trend. Manson’s search for love proves tricky on the album, but her continued bond with her bandmates is starting to seem like a match made in heaven.
'Not Your Kind of People' - Best Tracks:
“Beloved Freak” (Purchase/Download
“Not Your Kind of People” (Purchase/Download
Release date – May 15, 2012