I pondered back in Qtr 2 of 2021 that Garbage may have been peaking on a stylistic high over 25 years into their recording career. Turns out No Gods No Masters is as strong an album as the self titled debut or Version 2.0. If not stronger.
At that stage (qtr2) of the reveal only the title track & the preceding single The Men Who Ruled The World had been aired.
It turns out that fruit machine SFX sample and the synthy crunk meets grunge groove was to become known as the albums opening number. From there they dive into the most Garbagey of moments with The Creeps. As a hook I’m amazed Shirl hasn’t sung “Sometimes I Give Myself The Creeps” as a lyric before it’s so perfectly “them”!
The thin tinny industrial techno of the intro makes ample space for Ms Manson to talk us into a fervour before shifting gears (after a nifty Pink Floyd reference) and going all indie disco. The pace gets up for a middle eight that’s more like a middle sixteen. Oh! That chorus is pure radio.
Pink Floyd is a curious touchstone in some ways and yet, fans who bought The Endless River knew what they were in for. They also knew that they couldn’t get quite the same texture anywhere else at this stage (often imitated never accurately). Garbage occupy the same space for a totally different type of music. You can’t get a Garbage album out of anyone but Garbage. Their rock/pop/new wave/grunge/industrial hybrid is all theirs now. The serious depth their vintage had added since Sex Is Not The Enemy through to No Horses deepens the colours in their newly woven tapestry.
The No Gods No Masters era Garbage are so comfortable being themselves that it’s in no way jarring when a song titled Uncomfortably Me is a precision tooled easy ride. It’s like a walk through the topic of anxiety as if you’re in the safe hands of an expert who is going to ensure you come out the other side untraumatised and wiser. An infomercial on the topic that doesn’t feature terrible acting.
Good job really as from the following track Wolves on the twisted blurred melodies make a listener feel they being led astray. The almost Trust In Me bendy melody of “no one can say, that I didn’t need you” is deliciously untrustworthy. Bang up to date on meme culture the lyrics explore the recently re-popularised “There are two wolves inside you” philosophical bent. It ends on a religious note before tumbling into the laser guided Waiting For God. A sleek slowie exploring some big questions and bigger lies.
This track slips into the whip cracking table flipping dare I say say it? Dick sucking Godhead. Like a furious June leading Mayday on an attack against the commanders it did not come to play nice. Under His Eye. Blessed day.
Anonymous XXX is a techno driven cold case of a hook up without names or faces or memories… but it doesn’t really work like that does it? So there’s an inevitable downer in the post.
A Woman Destroyed references a classic piece of 60’s literature and holds the central theme of the decay of passion while absolutely being a dynamic piece of Garbage rock.
“And the dogs are barking and the children singing, and the stars are pulling at my hair and you’re hustling”
Flipping The Bird works as light relief among all of The Handmaid Tales on the album. It’s still furious at the state of the world the patriarchy have left behind for it but it’s a Tank Girl of a tune not an Invisible Woman.
No Gods No Masters the tune, we’ve covered in great detail. It’s the penultimate track on the pink vinyl copy of the album I got from the local vinyl pusher on Record Store Day. I still say it’s like Blondie holed in up in Berlin with Iggy and New Order. That brings us to the final track on the physical release of the album.
The swansonic This City Will Kill You is perfect end credit music for a techno noir about lady robots in which everyone dies and it never stops raining. The lightness of touch on the plinky plunk strings under fat swathes of Bladerunner synth work a treat. The self referential “Everybody’s praying that it rains, it’s been promised now for days” hook is sublime.
Who knew Garbage would make the best record of their career this deep in? And don’t let people fool you into thinking Iron Maiden did all the inventive animated promos in 2021 either. The stuff shot for this album made great use of the format.