I’m just going to crack on with the album review today as I had to change my injection day to yesterday which means Friday’s are now my official ‘feel like shit’ day. Never let it be said that fighting MS isn’t fun.
I was going to review Gorillaz when I got to G wasn’t I but then I found what was probably the sickest track of 2014 earlier this week by Garbage feat Brody Dalle which lead me into a spiral of Garbage consumption. Therefore I think it is only fitting for a Garbage review.
Garbage are one of those seminal 90’s bands that I grew up with. When I was a kid, back when we would tape the top 40 on our cassette players, we had very few strong women with attitude on our radios. The only female fronted strong ladyfaces I can recall from my childhood are Skunk Anansie, Garbage and I shit you not The Spice Girls.
Two of those bands remain with me now. The other one I keep in a box and occasionally take out to secretly blast ‘Say you’ll be there’ out at full volume. Don’t fucking judge me, I know you do too!
Shirley Manson is one of my earliest examples of a role model. I fucking loved her. I remember being at primary school and singing the lyrics to a Garbage track and a boy teasing ‘errr you like that ginger!’ pronounced ging – er and so was born my obsession with red heads. The fact that this kid thought there was something wrong with being ginger made it automatically fucking cool to me. The fact that she was a woman never really affected me when I was a kid, it’s only in hindsight that I can see the importance of that. At the time it was all about this red headed ladyface rocking up top of the pops.
As I got older I invested in some albums and discovered the drummer was legendary producer Butch Vig, who is absolutely one of my heroes. Responsible for some of my ultimate life changing albums such as L7’s Bricks are Heavy, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Against Me’s New wave and White Crosses. The guy is a freaking genius.
The first Garbage album I bought was their debut album the self titled Garbage which is what I will be reviewing for you today so without further ado here is that review for you.
Supervixen – Inspired by the film of the same name by Russ Meyers, it’s ultimately a song about control and dominance which coming from a female fronted band I guess at the time fueled many a teenage boys (and girls) wet dream. Vig has stated that although it’s controlling undertones are meant to be tongue and cheek it had become a very real radiance from Manson during live performances.
Queer – This is one of my absolute favorite words. I’m from the west country so my family use it a lot to describe things or people that are odd. I get called ‘queer’ or a ‘queerie’ on a regular basis by my family not because I’m a raging bull dyke but because it’s an affectionate word we use to call each other out on being a bit odd or awkward. This is one of my absolute favorite Garbage tracks because it is honestly the best word I know. The song was inspired by a novel Vig read about a father who hires a lady of the night to make a man of his son who is also sexing the father, which sounds like a wonderful bedtime story for father/son bonding.
Only Happy When it Rains – This was supposed to be a parody of themselves for exploring darker themes in music but ended up being one of their most successful singles to date. This is another great example of those happy sad songs. The lyrics are pretty dire but set to an upbeat pop track which brings us once again to that pessimistically optimistic area of music. This isn’t one of my favorite tracks by Garbage. I’m not sure why exactly? Perhaps due to radio overkill. All I know is it’s a persistent victim to my skip button therefore earns least awesome track.
As Heaven is Wide – This has always seemed to me to be a song about betrayal. This week has been Garbage obsession week and upon reading various things about the band, I discovered that Manson is an atheist who grew up in a religious household. So now I wonder if it is a song about the betrayal of being taught a religion as a child that you later grow up to question? I think unless you grow up in an atheist or agnostic setting this happens to all of us who question religion. I am a firm agnostic with an interest in Buddhism and Spirituality but I grew up in a house where my Mum would tell me off for taking the lords name in vane and still does even though she never goes to church and doesn’t identify as a christian. In fact I tried to lend her a self help book recently that uses Christianity as a model for forgiveness which I found really helpful but she refused to read it because it was ‘too religious’. She forgets that I am a bible bashing lunatic…I think secretly she’s actually just really enjoying The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison. Parents ey? Who’d ave em!
Not My Idea – Firstly I am not a psychopath. I read a book on the subject recently and discovered I have way too much empathy for that shit, so much empathy in fact that it is actually consuming me whole. Anyway I state to you dear reader that I am not a psychopath in order to excuse what I am about to relate this to. This always reminds me of societies conforms of the idea of what fun entails. I have sat at many a social gathering whilst repeating the lyrics ‘this is not my idea of a good time’ on a loop in my internal monologue, in fact even sneaking it onto the party playlist. It’s always met with a chorus of ‘FUCKING GARBAGE ARE AWESOME!’ then it get’s to the line ‘Now I’m here and I’m burning down your house’ and I am overwhelmed by guilt for bringing matches and petrol. You see far too much empathy to be a psychopath.
A Stroke of Luck – And the winner is….This is my favorite track on the album. It’s dark, it’s moody it’s fucking poetic and it really speaks volumes about the depths of hell a person can experience over arguably trivial matters such as who to love.
Vow – Allegedly inspired by a domestic abuse newspaper article which is arguably obvious as you listen and explore the songs themes. It’s a kick ass choice for a debut single, it was given a lot of radio airplay in the UK after Steve Lamacq and John Peel broadcast it on Radio 1 a station which has gone significantly downhill during the evolution of pop music. It was one of those word of mouth records and the UK record stores were overwhelmed with requests for a track that didn’t actually exist.
Stupid Girl – I think this was the first single I heard from Garbage, so it was probably this one I was singing when the horrid boyface told me I couldn’t like gingers. Manson is a self confessed feminist! Fuck yes she is and so am I! I don’t remember the impact it had at the time because I was like 8. In hindsight I imagine it was a very empowering song mirroring the riotgrrl message that was happening in the states at the time which we never really got over here. We got ‘Girl power’ not feminism. So this (in hindsight mind you, I was not aware of it at the time) was a super huge feminist anthem for a generation with way more weight than ‘Wannabe’ but maybe not quite as catchy. Look I like The Spice Girls OK.
Dog New Tricks – I think I prefer the album tracks now. I’m not saying the singles weren’t good, they were but I think the magic has worn off through radio overkill. When the album tracks stand up to the singles you know you have a great album and that’s what this is. I love this track it reminds me of someone I know and makes me feel a bit better that there are songs out there to soundtrack the experience of dealing with dick heads.
My Lover’s Box – We all know what it feels like to be lonely do we not? I guess unless you’re a psychopath? Do Psychopaths get lonely or do they just get bored? Psychopaths holler at me! Actually don’t. I’m good, not sure we’d get on with your lack of empathy and my overloading of the stuff. I imagine you would just exploit me and I would be like an annoying emotional leech, it’ll be clingy and messy. I just don’t think it would work. This is a great song to wallow to if you’re lonesome tonight. Stick this on and dream yourself up an imaginary perfect partner who feeds you chocolates whilst providing you with oral pleasure.
Fix Me Now – This has a great PJ Harvey vibe in places but is undeniably Garbage. You can’t fix people they can only fix themselves, you can however fix your bicycle, so you should go do that. This is a great song though, another great wallow in the happy/sad sound and you know I like it there.
Milk – This is a beautiful song and one of my favorites. Manson has stated that this is her favorite track on the album because it get’s written off as a pretty love ballad when in actual fact it’s probably the bleakest song on the album and fuck yeah that summarizes it perfectly.
Garbage is a phenomenal debut album by an exceptional rock band. It was recorded in 94′ 95′ at Smart Studios which I guess cuts down the costs if you own the recording studio. It was released in 1995 when I was 8 years old.
Although I was familiar with the album I actually only bought it quite recently in 2010 after getting back into the band in a major way after hearing an acoustic version of Medication and being terrified by Manson’s performance in The Sara Connor Chronicles.
It peaked highest at number one in the New Zealand charts but did pretty well globally hitting 2 x platinum in the USA, UK, NZ, Oz and Canadia.
I think it’s a pretty important album of the 90’s. I loved the 90’s, it was a seriously fucking cool decade to grow up and one of those reasons was the Spice Girls, another was Garbage.
Thanks so much for reading.
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