I can’t be the only one who thinks Garbage just keep getting better and better. Since their peak grunge break through as the producer Butch Vig’s band. They appeared to some as a construct with some serious middle aged muso’s backing the poster girl of the era singing Goth/Industrial tinged power pop. It’s clear they’ve proven any doubters waaaay wrong. This is not a strumpet and a Svengali operation at all. Never was. Shirley Manson is one of THE -great rock stars of the last 30 years. She’s strong, talented and honest to the point she can inspire seekers and intimidate the less than enlightened.
To follow Garbage on social media is to see in real time how a shy and unassuming singer handles being the mouth piece of a multi platinum selling band first hand. All posts are by Shirley’s own hand. Her voice, honest unpolished and without filter. What started with Vow has taken in suspicions of paranoia, fear of ageing, long dark nights of the soul and party anthems. Garbage are a rock and roll band. Rock and roll is meant to be fun. But it also HAS to mean SOMETHING. Otherwise it’s just disco without the dance moves.
Shirley and Garbage have used their platform to defend the vulnerable. empower the lost, champion the marginalised and most of all to continue chipping away at the monuments of misogyny that are sadly every day hurdles for half of the planet to deal with. All while wearing good clobber and looking like style icons and fearless artists to boot. Big time rock and roll? They’re really good at this.
So that brings us to their 2021 album No Gods No Masters. Great title right? Preceded by The Men Who Rule The World and it’s animated phallus felling fruit machine of a history lesson video. Over gaming machine samples and industrial beats a Metropolis robot Shirley demands we “Make it a crime to tell a lie again” while chants of “Money Money Money” give way to “Hate the violator, destroy the violator”. It’s a righteous rabble rouser that gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.
Now the albums officially almost out we get a preview of the title tune. This track stands up as yet another clarion call for the weirdos and others to band together. 2021 is filled with them. Can you smell the change in the air through your mask when you step outside? It’s coming. The people of the 21st Century don’t need judgement by old grey fat men to justify what comes next. We won’t let the coppers, the Baron Robbers and the CEO’s push us around for much longer. Paying tax should be the least of their worries.
“Be kind, be weird, be good, don’t be scared”
That’s a great opening line, over indie disco beats they’re playing like New Order meets Blondie in Berlin to dance with all the best elements of the bands own sound. There are synth swooshes, techno lite drum patterns while a robed, crowned and crucified Shirley hangs on the wall in a Gilead knocking shop. The new album seems to expand on the themes of 2017’s No Horses. She’s looking like a glamorous Baader Meinhoffian on the floor of the club in a cool beret and Nena inspired outfit. The band playing an empty club under a neon sign of the song and album title. It’s portent loaded stuff, yet totally hummable, danceable and catchy as feelings.
I know a single song wont save the world. The momentum of change being irrepressible though, that needs music to keep it flowing. If we’re banding together we may as well sing and dance while we’re at it. This Rebel Alliance have their own Princess General leading the charge. I have a good feeling about this.