Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Garbage, the post-grunge electronic pop rock team of producers and one fiery front-woman has been through a lot. After making their hay day in the ‘90s with their self-title debut and their sophomore album Version 2.0, Garbage has seen more than one near-breakup, a sluggish third album sale, a few lengthy gaps between albums and their share of label conflicts. So how does a band that has survived so much make their return to the music scene? By writing an album tailored specifically for the fans that gave them their initial success.
Not Your Kind of People is Garbage’s fifth album, but one would be forgiven for mistaking it for their earlier work. Garbage’s third and fourth albums were considered a departure from their first two albums; first venturing into the pop realm with their third album, then into a low-tech rock environment with their fourth album. Not Your Kind of People brings Garbage back to their roots with their signature dirty-production rock and their sound is as refreshing as their debut 17 years ago!
Fierce, tender and as unique as ever, Not Your Kind of People is a firm testimony that Garbage hasn’t suffered any loss of style in their absence. The album opens with the fast-paced and far-too-catchy Automatic Systematic Habit. A thick groove is pumped into Control. Sugar offers up a vulnerable vocal performance and a sexy bass line. Battle in Me channels Garbage’s famous rocking femme fatale side. And the album is punctuated by the touching and uplifting Beloved Freak.
Steve Marker’s unique riffs are refined and rich. Duke Erikson’s siren-like guitar work is irresistibly charming. Shirley Manson’s smoky and sultry vocal work offers up the same seductive appeal that has made her a regular name amongst the great female vocalists in rock. But the most admirable performance comes from legendary producer/drummer Butch Vig, who has ventured away from the rock and roll beats that we are all familiar with and has evolved into new territory. His updated arsenal helps set the band apart from the new generation of bands that Garbage helped inspire more than a decade ago.
My glowing admiration aside, the album is not perfect. The heavy-production value serves as a double-edge sword that will serve to make Not Your Kind of People difficult to perform live. Shirley’s vocal work finds itself drowned out in some of the more intense moments of the album. But the biggest mark against the album is probably found in the mid-album song Felt, which comes off as a phoned-in effort at a ‘90s grunge salute.
Not Your Kind of People is a rock-solid album, with few holes and even fewer dull moments. The band that can survive anything has shown that they can take it all in stride, and do it with style. Whether you were a fan of their youthful efforts or their more recent projects, you will not find yourself disappointed with their new album.